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UR Here Giving Day paused following calls for community members to abstain from donating

<p>Graphic by Annie Scalet/The Collegian</p>

Graphic by Annie Scalet/The Collegian

Editor's note: This is a developing story.

The University of Richmond's 2021 Giving Day, known as UR Here, was paused for a reason unspecified in an update posted on the Giving Day website the night before the event was set to begin.

The pause followed a call by the UR Black Student Coalition for community members, particularly alumni and parents of students, to abstain from donating until its demands for UR to improve Black student welfare are met. 

The Giving Day website was updated sometime this evening from its previous display of a countdown to the start of the event on April 7. Additionally, an email was sent to some alumni about the update around 6:24 p.m.

"UR Here Giving Day has been paused," according to the Giving Day website. "We remain focused on securing support for our students and look forward to holding UR Here in the near future. We will let everyone know as soon as we reschedule."

UR Here Giving Day 2021

An email sent to University of Richmond alumni on April 6.

The Collegian was unable to reach the UR Advancement Office for comment.

Giving Day is a 36-hour fundraising event where UR alumni, students, faculty, staff, families and other community members donate funds to support UR and its students, according to UR's website. Donations can be directed to five impact areas: academics, athletics, greatest needs, student life and well-being.

UR launched Giving Day in 2019, and raised almost $350,000. UR's 2020 Giving Day brought in $1,600,000 from donors, according to UR's website.

The BSC called for abstentions from donating on March 29. 

"Our petition and disaffiliation have not been enough to get UR administration and the Board of Trustees to act in the community's best interest and meet the demands listed in the Protect Our Web Statement," the BSC wrote.

As of April 6, the Google form that supporters of the Statement on Black Student Welfare can sign has reached 1,251 signatures. More than 90 campus organizations have posted organization-specific disaffiliation plans or statements of support for the BSC since March 25

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One organization included in the disaffiliation movement is the Senior Legacy Campaign Committee. Operations of the 2021 Senior Legacy Campaign, which provides a way for seniors to donate to UR, are now frozen and donations made after March 25 will not be counted to the overall tally.

Christopher Wiggins, UR '03, said in an April 6 interview with The Collegian he had talked to other alumni about withholding donations from Giving Day because the Board had not fully addressed the concerns of students, faculty, staff and alumni. Wiggins said he believed the pause was a result of the pressure the UR community had put on the Board, but acknowledged that a reason was not provided by UR. 

Haley Jones, UR '14, wrote in an email to The Collegian on April 6 that she supports the BSC's demands for a safe environment in which Black students can live and study.

Jones wrote that she was angered by the Board's response to the demands, citing the Board's conduct with students and faculty during March 26 meetings among community members as well as the Board's response to the meetings in an April 5 announcement that the Board suspended its renaming decision.

"To be perfectly frank, I received the mailing for UR Giving Day last week and it went straight into the garbage can," she wrote. "In light of recent events I am reconsidering any continued involvement with the university should the wellbeing of students continue to be disregarded."

Jones wrote that during her freshman and sophomore years, she worked as a Phonathon Caller and helped raise funds for UR.

"I was incredibly proud of the fact that I personally helped raise tens of thousands of dollars in donations to the university through cold calling alumni and community members," she wrote. "I perhaps naively believed that these donations were helping to improve the student experience for fellow Spiders. But I have come to realize that while it is heartening to see pledges for $1, $10, $100, or even $1000 come in from thousands of people who care deeply about current and future Spiders, it’s only a drop in the bucket compared the mega donors that the University is most focused on appeasing. 

"The University certainly won’t miss or even notice the lack of my small donation, but it is my hope that the powers that be will realize no amount of money can make up for a faltering moral compass and lost respect."

Contact editor-in-chief Morgan Howland at morgan.howland@richmond.edu.

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