Controversy Behind the Scholarship Fund Boxes
In February, two scholarship fund boxes were placed in the ABF Student Center. One of the boxes is in the café and the other one – in the cafeteria. Since their appearance, the boxes have sparked controversial opinions regarding their efficiency and purpose.
According to Hristina Mihaylova, a third-year student, “the idea behind it is commendable.” However, Mihaylova thinks that many people fear that there is no effective way of tracking how much money is gathered.
“I don’t think the boxes are a terrible idea, but they don’t seem like they’ll be very effective,” Michaela Parker, a second-year student from the U.S., said.
According to Parker, students use their cards to buy things so the only spare change that is dropped in the boxes comes from outsiders. She also said that U.S. universities do not have such boxes but they do have “these really obnoxious phone drives where we call every single alumni and current student to ask if they want to donate every year.” She thinks that the boxes will not be able to raise more than one hundred dollars but she “guess[es] every little bit helps.”
Aila Baizhomartova, a first-year student, said that she considers the idea interesting but she is not sure if “it is very well planned.”
Edouard Sullivan, also a third-year student, said that this idea is “an insult” to the AUBG students. He thinks that the boxes will not be able to gather a significant amount of money to justify their existence.
“The thought that any money is still better than none would be true if it didn’t come at the expense of insulting students by asking them to leave their spare change for someone’s scholarship,” Sullivan said.
According to Sullivan, there are intelligent ways to stimulate donation at AUBG. However, “this is certainly not one of those.” Instead, he proposed the practice of sending emails or letters to students and asking them if they want to help those who do not have the finances to obtain their degree.
Yelisaveta Glybchenko, a second-year student, said that she generally finds it a great idea to provide scholarships based on donations. However, she thinks that the scholarship fund boxes imply the message that students are the ones to contribute to the fund.
According to Glybchenko, the boxes create the wrong impression and “more awareness should be spread about the cause so that all students are okay with the idea.”
AUBG Daily asked AUBG President Stratsi Kulinski to shed some light on the idea behind the placement of the fund boxes.
“I know that there have been mixed feelings about this box. To me, this was kind of on-the-spur-of-the-moment idea but I’m sticking with it for several reasons,” President Kulinski said.
According to him, there are many external visitors who buy things from the café and from the cafeteria in the ABF Student Center. He also said that it is a very common practice around the world to have donation boxes to support worthy causes.
“What is a more worthy cause at AUBG than scholarships for students,” the President said.
As for the negative comments from some student s, the President said,
“I should be very clear: no one is expected to put any money unless you purely would like to.”
Kulinski said that for him this is a very practical solution because he always has a lot of change in his pockets. He said that by the end of the year, he would probably have contributed about 500 leva through these boxes from his purchases at the café and cafeteria.
In addition, he explained that there is no set design about the allocation of the money. The university could either establish a particular scholarship at the end of the campaign or continue raising money that could go into a scholarship fund. The President added that he is “open to suggestions and recommendations.”
Kulinski first started giving scholarships to AUBG students in 1996 together with a club of other AUBG alumni and he gave an individual scholarship in 1997. Several years ago he created an endowed scholarship for AUBG students.
He said, “I personally believe that the investment in AUBG is best spent in the support of the students.”
According to him, it is very small in monetary terms but a very large symbolic gesture and that is the message he would like to communicate. The President believes it is more the indication of support that AUBG needs than anything else:
“If we remind our visitors what we are all about, how capable our students are and how worthy they are of support, I think that very little effort can be effective,” he added.
President Kulinski said that he is not aware of other universities practicing this method but explained that “we pride ourselves at AUBG on being innovative and experimental.”
“At the end of the day we are all here, staff and faculty, because of the students. I would like to help as much as I can,” Kulinski said. “Through some small things like that I would like to remind people every day what our purpose here is.”