‘TAG Day’ puts focus on donors

tuition freedom day (Color)This year, the “Tuition Freedom Day” event will be recognized in the Wise Campus Center (WCC) on Feb. 26 with a new name and a new focus.

Danielle LaCavalla, the assistant director of class giving in the office of development and Alumni Relations at Norwich University, has restructured what was formerly known as “Tuition Freedom Day” into “TAG Day”.

As students approach the middle of their spring semester, many do not realize that the money they pay the school in tuition does not cover the entire year of running the university, from professors and administration to sports, heating buildings and dining rooms.

All the tuition collected from the students only accounts for about 75 percent of the expenses of the school, according to a TAG Day 2014 Direct Donor funded projects statement provided by LaCavalla.

Many students are unaware of the fact that donors and alumni provide the remainder of the financial support to fill in what annual tuition costs do not cover each year.

“I honestly had no idea the money ever ran out,” said Ian McAdorey, 19, a sophomore engineering management major from Parkland, Fla. “I assumed that tuition and everything was able to cover the expenses.”

LaCavalla explained that “Tuition Freedom Day” was originally the day that symbolizes when the money taken in by tuition essentially runs out as far as covering annual expenses – a date that occurs around the middle of February. “The name is misleading though, and we want the day to be more about student awareness of donor support,” she said.

That support is what covers the other 25 percent not covered by tuition. LaCavalla stated that the donors consist of not only alumni, but family, friends and parents of Norwich University.

She explained that at other universities, they have “T.A.G. Day” (Thank A Giver Day) which is more accurate than “Tuition Freedom Day.” The old name “can be misleading to students,” she said.

Tim Hunter, 20, a junior biology major from Exeter, N.H., said that, “over the last few years when I heard of “Tuition Freedom Day” I literally thought that on that day I would get a check for around $200 in the mail.”

Because of the previous misleading title, LaCavalla, along with the NU Communications Office, changed the name. “We believe that TAG Day will speak more volumes to students, who are our main audience,” she said.

Ed Earle, 23, a junior civil engineering major from San Jose, Calif., said he likes the name change.

“Maybe now, more students will understand what the day is all about, instead of everyone thinking they are getting money back,” he said.

LaCavalla explained that Norwich’s TAG Day is going to try to get the message across even more emphatically, as there will actually be price tags on items that “are from unrestricted funds and donor money” showing how much they cost.

The new marketing concept “all started when I met with the communications office,” LaCavalla said. After that, she took over the university wide event. With the donors in mind, she said that she has worked strategically with them to essentially rebrand the event.

On Feb. 26, students will be able to see price tags around campus, mainly on buildings and structures such as the upgrade to Sabine Field, for which $4,061,289 was paid by donor support, according to the TAG Day 2014 statement.

Other places that will be marked will be it items in the rest rooms and lounges on campus.

Courtney Hudson, 19, a sophomore management major from San Clemente, Calif., is eager to see the price tags around campus. “As an athlete, it will be interesting to see what the facilities I use cost,” she said. “I had no idea that the donors were responsible for them. I am so much more grateful now.”

Along with the price tags, the “hub” of the event will be in the Wise Campus Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. “There will be a large TAG Day banner that students can sign,” LaCavalla said, “We will then send [a picture of it] in an email to alumni and other donors.”

Aside from the banner, there will also be cider doughnuts, hot chocolate, lollipops and a TAG day sticker with “factoids” about the day, explained LaCavalla.

In the weeks leading up to the event, more of these “factoids” will be let out on Norwich’s Facebook page and on Twitter, “so that by the day of the event, all the information will have been out for students to use,” said Daphne Larkin, the assistant director of communications.

LaCavalla explained the goal for the day is not just to show students how much the school is spending on certain items, but also for students to “see the importance of the Norwich Family” and show their support.

“We want the students to be able to show their gratitude to the donors.” LaCavalla said.

As Tanya Mills, the My.Norwich and Social Media Manager stated, “It is a way to encourage students to say ‘thank you.’”

She explained that the whole day is dedicated to educating Norwich students on donor support, and is also a way for the students to express their thanks.

One way students are able to do this is by using the hash-tag #TYNUGIVERS on Feb. 26.

“Our hope is that when students see the tags around campus they will take a second to put the hashtag on Facebook or Twitter.” she said, “We want them just to say Thank you or express their feelings of thanks to the donors.”

Because the donors “help keep the school running,” it is important for the students to be appreciative, said Mills.

“The donors already get Thank you’s from the university,” she said, “but it means more to the donors to see students showing that same gratitude, it carries much more weight.”

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