Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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University president gives frosh $50 as test

To teach students a lesson about greed, one college president gave 100 randomly selected freshmen a surprise gift.

Students from Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., found $50 in their mailboxes one day last month. The money was a gift from Presbyterian President John V. Griffith, a university official said.

During Griffith’s convocation speech on Sept. 10 he announced his plan to put the $50 bills into 100 randomly selected mailboxes. The money had only one string attached — Griffith required students to tell him before the end of the year how they used the money, said Steve Owens, Presbyterian College director of communications, in an e-mail to The Daily.

Owens said Griffith instructed the money recipients to spend the gift however they pleased and to keep their responses to him anonymous. In his convocation speech, Griffith also emphasized the idea that students should commit themselves to community service in order to overcome greed.

Although more than two-thirds of the freshmen have not yet reported how they used the money to the president, many who have said they spent the money on helping those in need, Owens said.

“Many of these freshmen have been active in community and church service throughout their lives, so giving the money to those in need or to help raise the spirits of others is not surprising,” Owens said.

Some students helped family or friends, such as a student who gave the $50 to his girlfriend to help her fix her car, Owens said. Other students also made donations to a wide variety of organizations, including a boys’ home in Hati.

Another student used the money to buy American flags to hand out to students.

Although the Presbyterian freshmen could use the money on anything they decided, Owens said the president’s convocation speech led students to infer that they should find a worthy cause on which to spend the money.

Some Northwestern students said they also would take the Presbyterian College students’ community-minded approach if they received $50. Emily Wessel, a Weinberg senior and co-executive chair of Dance Marathon, said she would donate the money to a social issue.

McCormick freshman Chris Lee said he would donate some of the money to Special Olympics, but he also had a less philanthropic idea.

“I would go buy a lot of food to be honest,” Lee said. “I’m not used to this weather so I’d buy a lot of hot chocolate.”

Other NU students said they would use the money to catch up on their financial situations.

Weinberg junior Candace Walker said she would pay her cell phone bill and Weinberg junior De’Sha Wolf said she would use the $50 to pay her credit card bill.

“I think [NU students] would pay bills because this is an expensive school,” Wolf said.

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University president gives frosh $50 as test