To the Editor:
There is no denying that Andover does incredible amounts of good. The education it provides to students serves us for the rest of our lives. Its commitment to granting equal opportunities through need-blind admissions, for instance, is emblematic of Andover’s founding philosophy of Non Sibi. That being said, we urge you to consider alternatives to the Senior Gift.
The Senior Gift typically raises around $10,000. According to the nonprofit organization GiveWell, in developing countries, $10,000 could also be used to buy and distribute 1,000 treated malaria nets, to deworm 1,000 children with schistosomiasis, cure 30 people of blindness caused by trachoma, and still have roughly $600 in grants that can lift people out of poverty.
Where is your money truly doing the most good? Who benefits more from 20 dollars? An institution with an endowment of over $1 billion or any of the billion people who live on less than a dollar a day? Although $10,000 donated to Andover is by no means a waste, we believe the answer is clear: You, the person reading this letter, have the ability right now to prevent an unspeakable amount of suffering and to drastically improve someone’s life.
The most common objection to this moral obligation that we have heard is the concept of debt to the school. “The school has done so much for me, and I owe some donation to the school for this opportunity,” the usual formulation goes. But this idea of debt should be applied consistently, and the success of America, and in turn Andover, can be largely attributed to the exploitation of developing countries’ natural resources and indigenous peoples. Indeed, much of our prosperity has historically been predicated on the creation and perpetuation of military regimes with massive human rights violations.
Consider Guatemala. Guatemalans continue to suffer the consequences of a U.S.-backed military coup that replaced the democratically-elected government with a series of dictators, to the benefit of the American agriculture giant United Fruit Company, still operating today as Chiquita. Surely, our obligation to Guatemalans and impoverished people as a whole outweighs our debt to Andover.
In the spirit of Non Sibi, we ought to look beyond ourselves as an institution. This is by no means an attack on Andover, an institution that has done so much for us and countless others. Nonetheless, in this instance, we, the class of 2016, should consider supporting an alternative cause.
Please consider one of the “evidence-backed, thoroughly-vetted, and underfunded” charities recommended on givewell.org.
Tom Daly ’16
Carson Wardell ’16