Each year, graduating seniors have the opportunity to show their appreciation for the school of their choice. At the end of April, 10 of the University’s schools will present individual senior class gifts based on the participation and funding provided by graduating students.

Now in its third year, the race for the largest participation rate against Michigan State University competitors heats up as more students contribute funding to the class gift. Though the University of Michigan has lagged behind in the annual competition for the past two years, Michigan Telefund Program Manager Angie Nordquist said Michigan State may be in for a surprise.

“In the last couple of years, we’ve really fallen short in total class participation. But this year, I think we’re really going to give them a run for their money,” Nordquist said.

Students’ contributions in the past have helped supply state-of-the-art computer equipment, scholarships and various student programs around campus. Nordquist said about 30 percent of graduating seniors help give back to the school annually and usually raise between $35,000 and $40,000.

Similar to the annual Blood Battle against Ohio State University, students will compete against each other for the highest base rate of student participation. The winners will not be selected on the total amount of donations because the University’s senior class is considerably larger than that of its competitor. Telefund employee Georry Dietrich, who has worked with the program for three years, said the competition is a healthy one.

“If you announce a competition against MSU, more people will want to donate,” he said. “Knowing that we’re fighting against our rivals is a great way to show school spirit and fight toward a good cause.”

The assistant dean of each school must decide what the school needs and how the money can best be spent. Four departments have chosen class gifts for the 2003 graduating class – the School of Education, the School of Literature, Science & the Arts and the School of Engineering. The remaining schools have yet to decide where to spend their money.

The School of Engineering plans to donate a pool table to the Student Commons on North campus with the $800 raised by their students. The LSA department will fund student support and new student scholarships.

Telefund coordinators will try to increase their support by phoning and e-mailing graduating students at the beginning of March. Seniors can easily register to pledge online at www.seniorclassgift.org and have until April 30 to show their support.

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