By Meghan Powers
When the 1831 Society lost a number of its graduating and abroad members at the end of the spring 2014 semester, President Ryan Polk ‘17 and Vice-President Maggie Magrini ‘17 worked hard to get the club back on track.
Last year, the two expanded the role and potential of the organization on campus, and this year the 1831 Society’s involvement with students has only increased.
Overseen by the Annual Fund, the 1831 Society’s original goal was to educate the student body on the importance of scholarships given to students each year and change the way young alumni interact with Denison once they leave campus.
Under new advisor Andrew Kosek, Assistant Director for Campus Philanthropic Programs, the group has worked on this student body awareness about the importance of the Annual Fund.
“People give to nonprofits or causes because they know and understand the value that group brings. We want to create that knowing and understanding with the student body,” Kosek said.
The 1831 Society began the Big Red Society (BRS), which exists to recognize young alumni who continue to give back to Denison after graduation. The group wants to increase each student’s appreciation for Denison and allow them to create a lifelong relationship with the campus.
“As of now, 1831’s goal is to be a pipeline organization, preparing students for the Senior Gift drive and later the BRS and onward,” Polk said.
“What most students don’t realize is that the average student receives roughly $25,000 to $30,000 in scholarships per year from the school, and the average Denison student graduates with less debt than the average Ohio State student,” Polk said.
Without the Annual Fund and this alumni support, student aid would be cut by eight percent.
According to Kosek, the Society has also focused on finding leaders in each class to continue the tradition of giving and keep the Annual Fund strong. This year, he hopes to achieve equal representation between classes, ultimately growing the committee to 45-50 members. These chairs determine how the club makes an impact on campus.
Sophomore class chair, Thiele Schroeder ‘18 said, “Each of the class chairs is responsible for encouraging the members of their class to give an annual gift which includes them into the society.” As a group, the chairs hope to change the mentality around giving, stressing that even the smallest gifts make a difference.
Kosek is also looking at long term goals for the group. “Long term goals are to create a culture of giving within Denison’s student body,” he said. “In turn, when students become Denison graduates they will want to make sure they continue to give back to their alma mater. This will improve Denison’s alumni participation in annual giving, which is a key measure by U.S. News & World Report when ranking colleges.”
The group currently has chairs representing each class and is looking for more students to get involved. According to Sophie Lovett ‘18, “My favorite part about being part of the 1831 Society is that I get to work with an extremely passionate group of people who love Denison and recognize the importance of giving back during our four years on campus and for the rest of our lives.”
The 1831 Society plans to begin Slayter tabling and hosting educational events to get students to understand the importance of the Annual Fund. They also hope to begin fundraising in the spring for further education on the group’s work.
Short meetings are held monthly by the 1831 Society. Those interested in becoming involved are encouraged to e-mail 1831Society@denison.edu.