Finding a better way to fight for a cause


My eyes are going to lock onto the bus stop down the road, I'm going to put on an expression that seems to be saying "What kind of bread should I get on my sandwich at Au Bon Pain today?" and I'm going to hide behind a couple as I walk by the Sigma Delta Tau table of perpetual, never-ending candy sales.

Now, the cause of SDT's candy sale is as great as the creamy caramel in the Snickers I've just purchased from them, but the methods they employ to raise their funds are unfair and are nothing more than charitable panhandling.

The national SDT organization has partnered with Prevent Child Abuse America to, yes, prevent child abuse. According to PCAA, all the SDT chapters across the country donated more than $50,000 collectively last year. But although the Rutgers chapter of SDT contributes to this impressive and admirable total, I cannot help but think there are better, less obtrusive methods to raise funds.

As director of a non-profit organization, I know as well as any that when it comes to philanthropic projects, people are much more inclined to say they'll do something than to actually donate or participate. But resorting to the kind of unfair obstruction SDT favors should not be considered an acceptable way of raising funds, and some of the comments these frustrated sisters make to passers-by are equally unjustifiable.

For instance, I was finally prompted to write this article when I heard yesterday, walking back from class, this desperate plea come from the girl taking her shift on the table as a couple walked by without responding to her: "That's it. You don't want to help children, you're just walking away." This kind of predatory fundraising hurts the image of the sorority and the image of PCAA, and it certainly does not make me want to buy anything from them, no matter how worthy the cause.

Of course, not all girls who occupy the table use such language, and it's not right to pin this on any girl individually because they are laudably sacrificing their time. But the problem is not in the individual or the language used; it is in the greater method of SDT's fundraising. We all have the right to walk down the busiest and most occupied street without being asked, daily, whether or not we'd like to help sick children. If we could, I'm sure all of us would donate every day, but it's just not possible and it puts all of us in an awkward, unwarranted position.

I wonder if they go over what a "sucker" looks like in meetings.

Other service organizations use more creative methods to raise funds. They create events, host concerts, organize games and one group even rolls a giant ball around all three Rutgers campuses. SDT relies entirely on real estate and takes advantage of their prime location. The other fraternities and sororities on College Avenue rarely, if ever, set up fundraising projects on the street and still manage to accumulate a great deal of money for equally worthy causes.

It's their property and we don't have to listen, no. But they might as well be in the middle of the sidewalk because everyone is aware of their inescapable location and their constant philanthropic harassment.

SDT's methods are as effective and simple as children, relying on unavoidable encounters and cute faces, setting up lemonade stands on the side of the road.

I appreciate the cause and the actions taken by Sigma Delta Tau, but their methods are not fair to the tremendous number of people who walk by their table every day. SDT, if you're going to raise funds in a lazy manner then expect us to be lazy donors. If you put thought into your fundraising projects then we will put thought into giving funds. Your current method, though worthy, is lazy, uncreative and uninspiring.

Matt Cortina is a University College junior majoring in English.


Matt Cortina

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