A group of Princeton students are spreading the message that not only does giving to charity make you feel good, it’s possible to do on a student budget.
“It’s easy to say, ‘I’m just a poor undergraduate,’ but it’s just false,” Rutgers philosophy professor Larry Temkin *83 said April 11 at the public launch of the Princeton chapter of Giving What We Can, an international philanthropic group.
From buying smaller cups of coffee to shopping at outlets, Temkin told about 50 people at Whig Hall, students can “save lives” by diverting money from unnecessary spending to effective charities.
The founders of the Princeton chapter — Matt Wage ’12, Ben Cogan ’12, Jake Nebel ’13, and Richard Chappell GS — met last fall in a philosophy seminar called On What Matters. The seminar was taught by bioethics professor Peter Singer, a member of Giving What We Can. Members of the group pledge to give away 10 percent of their income.
Since taking the pledge, Nebel said he rarely buys new clothing and has cut spending on dining out by 75 percent. Chappell said he and his wife are saving slightly less.
Wage has a finance internship lined up this summer. He is planning a career in finance, and has pledged to donate half his salary after graduation.
Will that affect his lifestyle? “It will definitely change my life, but I don’t think it will be a big struggle,” he said. “I’ll still be able to have all of the things I really value, and I’ll be more fulfilled knowing that my money is doing a lot of good in the developing world.”
The chapter founders suggested that other students start with a more manageable figure — “like 1 percent,” Wage said.
Some who attended the launch event found it difficult to resist the message. Said Brooks Barron ’11: “The speakers made it seem doable to give to charity, and almost appalling not to.”
The official purpose of the fair was to give admitted students — the “prefrosh” — a sense of the University’s varied extracurricular offerings. Some 1,300 pre-frosh visited campus during the two weekends of Princeton Preview.
The fair is important, Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye said, because pre-frosh “want to know what activities and groups and clubs are going to fit with their talents and backgrounds.”
In practice, the activities fair also functions as a pre-recruitment drive for student groups.
To that end, students sang, danced, and schmoozed. Break-dancing troupe Sympoh popped and spun. Daily Princetonian staffers handed out copies of the day’s paper.
The Princeton Cube Club trotted out Shotaru “Macky” Makisumi ’12, a former world’s record-holder in the 3x3 Rubik’s Cube. As pre-frosh looked on, Makisumi solved a cube in just 13.61 seconds.
On the far right side of the gym, Princeton Pro-Life handed out “Former Fetus” buttons to interested passers-by.
Nearby, the Princeton Hypnosis club had no props.“There’s no swinging watch. That’s not real,” said Mark Whelan ’14.
He set out trying to convince pre-frosh why hypnosis — which he said induces a state of simultaneous relaxation and focus — was right for them.
“Athletes use it a lot,” Whelan told one student. “You could just [mentally] practice doing a thousand free throws in, like, two minutes.”
Before intrigued pre-frosh could join the group, however, they first had to commit to Princeton over the likes of Harvard, Yale, and Penn.
Whelan imagined bringing a pre-frosh in for a pro-Princeton hypnosis session: Look around and notice how pretty all the buildings look. Look at all the students and see how happy they seem. Imagine how excited you would be to go to class with great professors.Alex Martinez, a pre-frosh from Burbank, Calif., said the club’s mere existence made him more likely to attend Princeton.“It means students can do whatever they want to do,” Martinez said.