Hamilton Celebrates STOP Day!


Wondering what was with the blue STOP signs hanging around campus this week?

Most Hamilton students are completely unaware that the income from tuition, room and board covers only two-thirds( that is, or 65 percent) of their education’s full cost. The remainder—35 percent of the cost—is paid for by generous donations from alumni, parents and friends of the College collected both through the academic year and from the endowment.

On Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, Hamilton celebrated its fourth STOP, or Starting Today Others Pay, Day.  This is the annual turning point during the spring semester, when the benefactor contributions cover the cost of operating the College for the remainder of the academic year rather than tuition and fees.

Hamilton’s alumni donations already contribute to our education more than we know   During the 2012 - 2013 academic year, nearly 9,000 alumni made annual gifts to the College—a 48 percent participation rate.  Donating to the annual fund or other areas allows alumni to give back to the College by allowing another student to have the best Hamilton experience possible.

The day’s celebrations were notably organized by the Hamilton College Office of Communications and Development and two student groups: Hamilton Alumni Leadership Training (HALT) and the Senior Gift Committee.  These activities and efforts to raise awareness took many forms.  Across campus, bright blue STOP signs were hung with posters stating hypothetical “Imagine If...” situations for students to ponder, such as, “Imagine if electricity was rationed to only 16 hours per day.” The College also used Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to generate publicity for the event both on and off the Hill.  This year, the dining halls also raised awareness for STOP through the use of table settings; two-thirds of the tables had blue tablecloths, while the remaining third of the tables were covered by white tablecloths.

Throughout the day, large groups of students joined in the STOP tradition of writing postcards to benefactors, thanking them for their generous contribution to their Hamilton experience.  This annual activity is undeniably the most significant aspect of the celebration, for according to Director of Affinity Programs Laurie Russell, “We don’t say thank you enough.” The experience of sending a handwritten card also causes students to acknowledge the tremendous impact the alumni have on their experience at Hamilton and afterwards.

“Our alumni provide so many opportunities for this campus, and their support allows Hamilton to offer a top-notch education for students,” said Jeff Sobotko ’14.  He added, “Without alumni support, I would be far less prepared to enter the ‘real world’ this May.”

Many Hamilton students, such as the senior leadership groups and multiple sports teams, participated in the celebration by encouraging their peers to get involved.  Nicholas Solano ’14 referred to this as “one of the best things about this day.”  In fact, student engagement with STOP is a fundamental purpose of holding the event. Solano explained, “We are going to be future leaders in the alumni community…It’s really important that we grasp the magnitude of this.”

The purpose of the STOP campaign is not only to raise awareness for alumni donations to students’ education alone; in addition, the event seeks to unite current students with those Hamilton students that came before them.  “When the students write letters to the alumni, a connection is more clearly established,” said Scott Hancox ’14.

Each year, STOP Day continues to raise awareness for all that the incredible Hamilton alumni network does for current and future students, both on and off the Hill. Though students only acknowledge alumni donations in this fashion once per year, they are reminded daily of the gifts’ significance just by being a part of the College.