Text-message voting for the senior class gift opened Wednesday, and seniors will vote to contribute their money to one of four choices.
Members of the class of 2010 have the option of voting to fund renovations to study areas in Gelman Library, contributing to a fund to support new student organizations, funding renovations to the Smith Center, or starting a senior spirit fund. The money the class raises will go to the option with the most votes.
The Senior Class Gift Committee is accepting votes until Friday at noon. Kelley Stokes, the senior class gift chair, said the committee chose to limit the voting to a text-messaging service because they thought it would be a more effective way to reach out to seniors.
“Seniors are busy and are not always at their computers. We really want to make sure anyone who wants to vote is able to,” Stokes said.
Seniors simply text GW2010 to the number 30364, or they can go to the senior class gift Web site and enter their cell phone number online, Stokes said.
Stokes said she hopes a lot of people will participate in this vote. As of Wednesday afternoon, 600 seniors had signed up to vote.
“Last week we had 173 seniors signed up, so  is pretty astronomical,” Stokes said. “Generally, only one-fourth of the senior class votes, but I’d like to see a higher number than that.”
The committee does not have a specific amount of money they hope to raise, Stokes said.
“Participation is our primary goal. It’s our class gift, so we really want everyone to have a say in it,” Stokes said.
Seniors who decide to participate may donate however much money they want to anything – any building, department, office, scholarship or organization, Stokes said. The Luther Rice Society, a GW networking group made up of alumni and other generous donors, will match that amount and put the money toward the senior class gift, Stokes said.
“You are able to have an impact on something that really mattered to you while you were here, but still put money towards the senior gift,” Stokes added.
The University relies heavily on alumni donations, so encouraging seniors to donate money now is important, Stokes said.
“We’re graduating and getting ready to search for jobs in a bad economy. The value of our degree is determined by how much we invest back in our university,” Stokes said. “By investing back in our own degrees, we’ll be benefitting ourselves.”
Senior Jen Dang said she heard of the new text-message voting system from advertisements in her residence hall and from e-mails. Dang said she plans to vote to donate money to Gelman Library.
“It’s the most widely used building on campus, so that would be the biggest benefit for all students. The other gift choices only pertain to a certain amount of students,” Dang said.
Although Dang plans to vote for the senior class gift, she does not think the text-messaging system is the most effective way to promote the vote.
“For people who don’t have an unlimited text-messaging plan, they are at a disadvantage because their vote will cost money,” Dang said.
Voting online or in person may be a better approach, Dang said.