Society allows students to give back to campus

By Lauren Laws

Students can no longer complain about how and which projects are funded by the University’s money. Instead, through the 1867 Society, they can decide for themselves where their money goes.

The 1867 Society, a philanthropic registered student organziation named for the first year that the University opened, gives students the opportunity to donate to one of 28 funds, colleges or organizations on campus.

“Students giving would give students more ownership over the campus,” said Tyler De Shon, a 2008 graduate and one of the 1867 Society founders. “It connects them more deeply with the school.”

Chancellor Richard Herman first presented the idea as a way to have more people identify themselves with the University. The organization is only open to undergraduates, graduates and professional students.

“It creates a greater association with the University,” Herman said. “Individuals who give at some level will be more involved with the institution.”

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De Shon began working on the 1867 Society as a project while an intern with the vice president of the Student Affairs Office.

“We noticed that there was a really large student disconnect with the campus,” De Shon said. “The school’s going through a lot of branding right now. Here, students say, ‘I’m a psych major’ or ‘I’m an Illinette.’ They separate themselves.”

After speaking with the chancellor and vice chancellor, De Shon started the project this past January. However, with his graduation date set for the coming May, he picked Valerie Kernan, junior in ACES and B.J. Frobish, junior in ACES, to continue with the organization.

The society accepts any and all donations through its Web site. To become a member though, a donation of at least $18.67 is needed.

At the end of the academic year, members are given the opportunity to decide where the money donated into the 1867 Society fund, one of the 28 offered, will be sent to.

“It isn’t a way for the University to get money from the students,” Kernan said. “It’s a way students can get involved and have a say. (They) should be pumped up.”

The 1867 Society is spending the months of October through January as a pre-campaign period to inform students about the organization.

In January, the society plans to become more aggressive in their tactics.

“We’re going to hit the dorms, chalk the Quad, create events to have students find out more and give presentations to the colleges,” Frobish said. “We want to present at (resident adviser) and floor meetings too.”

Even though the society recently became fully operational, it has already received a few donations. Those involved with the group hope that this will grow.

“Down the line, I hope contributions grow in numbers and it gets students to donate every year,” De Shon said. “It’ll be really good to go back in five years and see 1867 Society plastered everywhere.”