Though it may have been years since they walked the Yard or mere days before they leave it, more and more graduates are choosing to support the College through an immediate use gift. Also known as current use funds, these resources are critical in advancing the Harvard experience today and in the future.Harvard’s newest alumni were the first to reach their participation milestone with a record-breaking Senior Gift Campaign. The Class of 2011 achieved an 82 percent participation rate, with 1,236 seniors helping to set a new record for the third year in a row. In addition, the class reached a new record for associates-level giving, a gift of $250 or more for young alumni, and had 450 seniors sign the “Senior Gift Promise,” a nonbinding commitment to give back to Harvard every year until their Fifth Reunion.How did they do it? Class of 2011 co-chairs Seth A. Bour, Courtney A. Cronin, Zachary M. Frankel, Casey L. O’Donnell, and Alexandre J.C. Terrien were not afraid to make some substantial changes from Senior Gift campaigns of the past. They eliminated the traditional House competition in favor of a unified class campaign; hosted additional Senior Gift events; and produced eight different Senior Gift videos, a number unprecedented in previous campaigns.“Giving back through Senior Gift is a way to show support for future students, in the same way that past seniors and alumni have supported us. We are proud of the Class of 2011 for setting both participation and associates records this year, and we plan to continue the tradition of giving back as we enter the alumni community,” say the co-chairs.The tradition of supporting the next generation of students at Harvard has always been an integral part of reunion giving. “Harvard has been a very powerful force in our lives,” says Joel Getz of the Class of 1986. “In particular, I think the need for financial aid really resonates for many people.”As a participation chair for his 25th Reunion Class, as well as a reunion planning chair, Getz worked with classmates Suzy Le Boutillier and Steve Kovacs to champion a herculean effort to update contact information and get in touch with as many classmates as possible with extensive peer-to-peer outreach. Getz hopes this will inspire higher giving levels and increased attendance at reunion. Already, the class has seen a record number of submissions for the Harvard College Class Report.For Getz, the collective response was the most exciting. “Our gifts advance excellence and leadership in higher education,” he says. “Together, we can provide Harvard with ample resources to support the minds and skills that can help solve the world’s most pressing problems.”Maximizing the impact of a gift has also been critical for Tadhg Sweeney ’61, B.Arch. ’68. A loyal donor for many years, he wanted to do something significant in honor of his 50th Reunion. Together with his wife, E.V. Sweeney, he gave a $100,000 immediate use, unrestricted gift to the Harvard College Fund and then took it one step further.He challenged his classmates to achieve 61 percent participation in honor of their reunion. If they reach this goal, the Sweeneys will give another $150,000 to the Harvard College Fund Scholars Program, thus creating scholarships for six students in the next year. The recipients will be known as the Class of ’61 scholars.“We wanted to give a gift that would draw in as many of my classmates as possible,” says Sweeney, whose class is closing in on the goal.For his classmates, he says, it has been especially motivating to know that their cumulative gift has the clout to make a big difference for future students. More than 60 percent of enrolling students in the Class of 2015 will receive need-based scholarships, averaging more than $40,000, and they will benefit from a record $160 million in financial aid.“It’s not necessarily the size of the gift, it’s the impact of the gift,” Sweeney says. “People like the fact that their donation counts.”
‘A circus with balloons’ Navalny, a 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner who has organized the biggest anti-Kremlin demonstrations in recent years, has slammed the reforms as a “constitutional coup” but has done little to forcefully oppose them.He has said debate about whether to participate in the plebiscite is pointless because lawmakers have already backed the amendments and the vote will be a fraud.”What we are left with is a circus with balloons,” he wrote on Telegram.While many opposition supporters have been frustrated by its inability to offer a more decisive plan of action, some said change will come sooner or later.Mikhail Samin, a 20-year-old programmer who took part in anti-government protests in Moscow last summer, pointed to Putin’s approval ratings, which fell to a historic low of 59 percent in April, according to a poll by the Levada Centre. “The opposition is moving in the right direction,” Samin said. “Society is moving in the right direction.”Navalny has said that, instead of focusing on Putin’s constitutional changes, Russians should prepare for regional elections in September and parliamentary polls due in 2021.Last year pro-Kremlin candidates suffered losses in Moscow city polls after Navalny called for tactical voting to oppose Putin loyalists.Analyst Stanovaya said it was time for Navalny to save his strength for another battle.”Now is not his time.” Russia’s opposition is denouncing this week’s vote on President Vladimir Putin’s constitutional reforms as a joke, pointing out that copies of the amended basic law are already on sale in Moscow bookshops.From liberal reformers to Communists, Kremlin critics say the vote — which started last week and ends on Wednesday — is a thinly veiled attempt to keep Putin, 67, in power for life.But other than tepid calls to boycott or vote “No”, the opposition has done little to actively fight the changes. Russia’s top opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who last summer rallied thousands against suspected voter fraud in Moscow, has also shown little interest in combating the reforms.Experts say deep divisions and shrewd moves by the Kremlin are keeping opponents from mounting any serious opposition to Putin’s plans.”A lack of resources, a lack of new faces, a lack of excitement, inspiration and faith — that’s what I think are the main reason for the problems,” said Vitali Shkliarov, a Harvard University fellow and political adviser who has worked with the Russian opposition.”There have been a million opportunities to prove yourself” since Putin announced the reforms, he said. But after years of repression, Kremlin critics feel dispirited. ‘Opposition in a bind’The amendments have already been approved by parliament but Putin called the public vote in an effort to boost their legitimacy.Initially planned for April 22, the ballot was postponed by the coronavirus epidemic and analysts say its quick scheduling and then rescheduling is part of the reason the opposition has been unable to mount a strong campaign.Tatyana Stanovaya, founder of analysis firm R. Politik, said the Kremlin also pulled the rug from under its opponents when it gave Russians the choice to vote only “yes” or “no” on the entire package of changes, instead of individual amendments.Opposing popular measures such as better pensions and minimum wages could leave Kremlin opponents vulnerable, she said.”In such a situation it’s hard to argue against the amendments,” she told AFP. “The opposition is in a bind.”Liberal party Yabloko has urged Russians to stay away from the “illegal, anti-constitutional and fake vote”.The Communist Party is calling on its supporters to vote “No”, an unusual move for a party that often toes the Kremlin line. “The Russian opposition does not believe in itself.”Putin proposed amending the constitution in January and later approved a last-minute addition that would reset presidential term limits to zero, potentially allowing him to serve two more six-year terms after his mandate expires in 2024.They also include political changes like strengthening the role of parliament and a series of populist measures such as a requirement to adjust state pensions for inflation and an effective ban on gay marriage.Opinion polls show a majority of Russians support the social amendments but there is less enthusiasm for the political reforms. Topics :
Bricen James won the season-opening IMCA Modified feature Saturday at Cottage Grove Speedway. (Photo by Tina Gargurevich, Wings Off Photography)By Ben DeatherageCOTTAGE GROVE, Ore. (March 31) – Six months ago, Bricen James’ future in racing was an unknown.Saturday night, he stood in victory lane after winning the season-opening IMCA Modified feature at Cottage Grove Speedway.Craig Hanson was quick out of the gate and stayed in the lead until Collen Winebarger got past on lap four. Winebarger remained out in front for some time before he bicycled in turns one and two, allowing James to pass him via the inside line.James kept hold of first place but had to master restarts due to several cautions. James kept all challengers in check and went on to collect the checkered flag. It was an emotional triumph because six months ago he nearly had a career-ending injury in a Sprint Car last September.John Campos got second, followed by Dustin Cady in third.