Campus for Christ misses the mark
I’d just like to draw attention to a terrible contest that took place on campus this month. Campus for Christ, an AMS club, held a contest called “Paid vs. Aid.” Participants entered in a draw to win $1000.
Sounds simple, right? The catch: if you win, you have a choice. Door #1: You keep the money for your tuition, or Door #2: You donate the money to one of three charities, all of which are part of the Global Aid Network (GAiN), an international organization.
A few well-written editorials have already been published in The Ubyssey Student Newspaper about this, here and here. I agree with my colleagues Blake and Paul in that I think the choice presents individuals with a catch-22. If you pick Door #1, you look like an incompassionate jerk. And if you pick Door #2, you are in debt a bit longer—but you help people in need.
Emily Leung, club spokesperson, told The Ubyssey:
“Ultimately we just want a discussion going, and we just want people to think about what they want….We’re not trying to guilt trip anybody in terms of ‘Oh, you’re choosing tuition instead of helping other people.’
“If [you were] to choose tuition…you want to empower yourself and invest in yourself. [Then] self empowerment in some form is what you really value and what you desire….We just want the students to think critically about the choices they make.”
“We’re trying to get people to seriously think about what they desire and…these questions that we normally don’t think about….The question we want people to think about is why would you choose one thing over another thing, and what, ultimately, does our soul crave?”
The statements, “We’re not trying to guilt trip anybody in terms of ‘Oh, you’re choosing tuition instead of helping other people'” and “If [you were] to choose tuition…you want to empower yourself and invest in yourself” are contradictory. If Student A, living in a developed country where you have the freedom to go to school and take a hot shower and buy and eat food whenever you like, wants to invest in themselves instead of giving to a charity, who isn’t going to say that Student A is selfish? Is it so WRONG to look out for one’s own interests sometimes? This is the inherent problem with the contest. There is no other choice but to choose the charity.
What does Leung mean when she says, “What, ultimately, does our soul crave?” My ‘soul’ craves world equality and peace, and it also craves not being in student debt for the rest of my life. Why can I only have one of these two options?
Also, there are the reasons why people entered the contest. Some people probably entered the contest to pay their tuition—again, is that selfish? Who enters a contest to win a donation to a charity if the organization is going to donate to a charity no matter who wins? The only scenario I can think of is if you enter the contest in order to choose which charity you want the money to be donated to. However, by choosing a charity, as Paul said, “you’re denying the other two groups the means for survival.” A bit of an exaggeration, but he has a point. Deciding which charity is too difficult. Think about how the people in Tanzania, Benin or Haiti would feel if you told them, “Sorry, I chose ___ instead of you.”
I’m sure that Campus for Christ had good intentions and did not mean to make people feel guilty. But unfortunately, that’s exactly what they did.