After Lack of Entries, $5k from PSPA Contest Still Unclaimed

“What would you do with $5,000?” asked the Parents of Students at Phillips Acadeny (PSPA) in the first-ever Student Activities contest. From the limited challenge responses, the students’ answer seems to be “not much.” The contest, which offered $5,000 to subsidize the best and most meaningful proposal put forth by a student or student group, received only one application by its April 5 deadline. Cynthia Efinger, Director of Student Activities, said that although the solitary submission was a solid proposal, it was “unfortunate . . . that people didn’t take [the contest] seriously.” She added that she often gets requests from students for bands, and $5,000 would have been enough to bring a live musician to campus. Efinger speculated that perhaps the lack of interest was because the “number is too big for students to comprehend… overwhelming.” Efinger brainstormed possible methods of allocating the money, such as sponsoring special events or purchasing new furniture. After learning about the lack of submissions, Teddy Collins ’08, President of Student Council, said that there was a slight “misunderstanding” about where the money would end up going. Not aware at first that a proposal had been submitted, the Student Council assumed that it would be receiving the $5,000, even though it had not submitted an application, explained Collins. Collins and the Student Council have until next Monday to develop a proposal for use of the $5,000, after which PSPA will decide where to allocate the funds. The Student Council met this past Sunday to discuss ways to spend the money. Tiffany Li ’09, Student Council Secretary, said that ideas included throwing a spring carnival, purchasing cupcakes for everyone on campus, buying cappuccino machines for every dorm and, as a long-term possibility, offering a summer project stipend. The Student Council also considered bringing a speaker to campus because “true or not, there seems to be a consensus that other schools have better speakers than we do,” Li said. Jon Adler ’08, Vice President of Student Council, proposed establishing a new tradition of giving the money to the Senior class and having them choose a good speaker, according to Li. The question of why the student body’s response was so lackluster still remains unanswered. Lucas McMahon ’08 joked that he had considered an email to Efinger asking for the money to support “a vacation for Lucas McMahon” and would promise to keep a blog to make his trip relevant to the whole school. Realistically, he added later in an email, “It is hard for me to even fathom what to do with that much money…the figure is intimidating to someone who has never managed that much money.” According to the March 6 article in The Phillipian, written soon after the contest was announced, students appeared optimistic and imaginative. They suggested bringing an artist or band to campus, sponsoring weekend trips, or even donating the money to charity. PSPA sponsored the contest after a successful year of fundraising in addition to money from student clubs that had remaining funds from the year before. PSPA also had fewer PA projects to sponsor than usual. For example, renovations in GW and Uncommons were covered by other sources of funding. Even if the unusual circumstances that made the contest possible occurred again, Efinger predicted that the Student Activities Office and PSPA would “probably not” coordinate another contest.