By Nate Discavage @DiscavageSavage
Next fall semester, there will no longer be a March for Babies walk on the St. Bonaventure University campus. WSBU 88.3 the Buzz will not host their March of Dimes lock-in. Students will walk through the Hickey Dining Hall without small purple posters promoting an upcoming march. Resident Assistants will not be decorating resident halls with posters asking students to go online and donate to the charity.
“We are switching charities,” St. Bonaventure Student Government Association (SGA) President Rose Brown said. “It’s definitely going to happen.”
Brown pointed to declining numbers in attendance for the university’s annual March for Babies campaign.
“We have had a problem with student involvement and student interest,” Brown said. “We have decided that we should reach out to an organization without such a big name that may need our help.”
Instead, SGA will hold a meeting on Thursday Oct. 30 to create a list of four charities that the student body will then vote on.
“We want to make sure the student body has a voice in this,” Brown said. “We decided that we should reach out to an organization without such a big name who may need our help a little more.”
SGA Vice President Patricia Gould also saw this as a perfect opportunity to grab student’s attention.
“It didn’t grab the attention of the students like it has in the past,” Gould said. “We are really going to look for charities that the student body is interested in.”
Along with a lack of involvement, famous charity review site Charity Navigator gave March of Dimes a two-out-of-four star rating, with only one star on their financial rating. After reviewing their 2014 tax information, Charity Navigator reported that less than 70% of the charity’s revenue goes to research and aid.
In addition, Jennifer Howse, the organization’s president, earns a yearly compensation of $503,692 according to March of Dimes’ IRS 990 Form. Charity Navigator’s most recent compensation study states that the average head of a charity in 2012 earned $120,396. Three years later, Howse is making over four times that figure.
SGA was not the only group on campus that did not want to re-up their partnership with March of Dimes. SBU for Life, the university’s pro-life organization, felt that supporting the organization was conflicting with their personal beliefs.
“The March of Dimes is listed on the Planned Parenthood website as a charitable donor,” SBU for Life president Katherine Miller said. ” In 2012, a grant of more than $22,000 was given to the organization by the March of Dimes.”
Miller pointed to the recent controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood that helped shape their decision.
“It’s difficult to justify even peripheral support, particularly financially, for an organization that has such a relationship with Planned Parenthood,” Miller said.
Founded in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the March for Dimes was originally created to help combat polio in children, an issue close to the president’s own heart. Since the discover of the polio vaccine, the charity has shifted its focus to helping aid and prevent birth defects.
For an update on the charities selected to put up for student vote, make sure to check back later this week.