Monday, May 20, 2024

Do you want to make a donation?

Don’t open your wallets just yet.

Ken Knelly, the executive director of marketing and communications, sent out an email Sept. 2 informing Plattsburgh State students of a fundraising scam reported on campus.

“They claimed they were in a fundraising contest and, if given money, would then reimburse the donor-students most of their money. Unfortunately, this is a scam and these individuals fraudulently took money from students,” Knelly wrote.

This whole incident with scams got me thinking about when I used to live in the dorms. Bros in backward fitted hats would come to my door saying they were raising money for charities such as Wounded Warrior or St. Jude’s Children Hospital, and I’d throw them a buck or two. Dorm-storming they call it.

After this happened a few times, I heard that people will go around the dorms collecting charity money when in reality they’re using the change for beer money.

Since then, I haven’t donated any paper money to charities that come to my door. Unless I can send a check or donate online, I’m not giving up my cash.

I wanted to see if students noticed and followed the advice of Knelly’s email, so I set up my own investigation. An associate and I went to a dorm building with nothing more than a speech and a change jar with a picture of starving children taped to it and saw how many students would donate. We gave the money back right away of course.

“Hello, I’m Griffin, and this is my friend Courtney. We’re from the Gamma Sigma Kappa leadership society, and we’re collecting donations for Better People, Better World, a foundation that raises money for starving children in Manaan. Would you like to make a donation today?”

Other than my and Courtney’s names, everything about this pitch is false. There is no Gamma Sigma Kappa leadership society — that’s just my initials in Greek. Better People, Better World isn’t a real charity, but the name is catchy. Finally, Manaan is a planet from the Star Wars universe home to the stingray-like Selkath race.

Courtney and I asked 11 different on-campus students for charity money. Out of those 11, five students gave us money ranging from pocket change to a few dollar bills. One student even mentioned the email and asked us if we were for real right before he put a dollar in our jar. Another student said, “Well, I can’t not donate to that.”

After the transaction was complete, I’d tell them we’re actually from Cardinal Points and were seeing how easy it is to perform a charity scam on campus. Most of the students then mentioned they did read Knelly’s email and that they’d take better notice next time dorm-stormers knock on their doors.

Approval for fundraising starts at the Center for Student Involvement. PSUC clubs and organization must fill out an online approval form and have it verified by the center. If clubs or organizations want to dorm-storm, they need further approval and identification papers from the housing office.

So next time you people knock on your door asking for money, make sure they’re from a recognized on-campus club or organization, have written information on their fundraiser and have been approved by the Center for Student Involvement and the housing office because “starving children in Manaan” is code for Natty Ice.

Email Griffin Kelly at

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