In the latest of its marketing campaigns, the Xavier Alumni Office launched “a 48 hour social media and giving blitz called ‘March Gladness.’” The design of the campaign was to spur “a record number of gifts to Xavier” in a two-day window, March 10 – 12.
“March Gladness” also involved emails to the student body asking for both student support in advertising the campaign on social media as well as financial gifts from students. The final tally showed that 587 people gave to March Gladness, including 45 students who gave to Xavier Athletics and more students who directed their gifts to other sectors of the university.
The follow-up email for the campaign claimed that this was an historic period for Xavier — “More students were involved in March Gladness and more dollars were raised than any other period in Xavier history. The pride you have in your university is what makes Xavier, well, a magical place with a vibrant future.”
Beside the fact that many non-academic things have been deemed historic for the university in recent history, including Xavier joining the Big East Conference, it is a stretch at best to call a 48-hour marketing scheme historic.
What’s offensive about this campaign is what it says about how Xavier’s corporate division views the student population. Students are already giving money to the university by way of tuition, and it’s perfectly fine to ask them for more in the form of gifts to the university. Furthermore, Xavier pride is apparently expressed through financial gifts, and that type of pride is what makes Xavier a “magical place.” Students are just another source of income, not individuals who are part of the life of the university.
The March Gladness campaign may have been innovative for the folks who usually market Xavier, but this type of desperate money- grubbing is only indicative of recent financial troubles that the university won’t admit.