SILVIA OAKLAND, TRUMPET EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
UKnight Day will continue March 25 for Wartburg students and alumni after last year’s cancellation due to COVID-19 and students being sent home.
“I want to call last year ‘UKnight For Students.’ We really wanted to try to focus on meeting student needs,” Rob Ruchotzke, director of annual giving, said. “In a term where students were sent home or not attending classes, we thought we could support them through an emergency fund.”
“The response from students and alumni was outstanding. Not only was the ‘UKnight For Students’ fund able to aid many current students in their struggles because of COVID-19, but it also showed just how much our Wartburg community is invested in the education and well-being of all Knights,” Liz Stange, fourth-year education major and events intern with the Parent and Alumni Relations department, said. According to wartburg.edu, the UKnight For Students event raised roughly $48,000.
For the 2021 UKnight Day, Ruchotzke said he and the rest of the team plan to host a day similar to those prior to COVID-19, with having students energized and working together while also following safety guidelines.
“We did a shift back to our normal fundraising model and going back to support the annual fund,” Ruchotzke said. “But the main goal [of this year’s event] was to get that energy back to our alumni, faculty, students and parents. That’s what UKnight Day is about.It’s about connecting, sharing your experience, learning from others’ experiences.”
Ruchotzke said UKnight Day has been a way for students, alumni, parents and faculty to show their support for Wartburg throughout the five years of the event, while also bringing together the campus community. Tiffany Pins, head women’s soccer coach and a champion of UKnight Day said she’s excited to see the community come together after time apart.
“This year will be nice because we have freshmen and sophomores [on campus] who haven’t really experienced UKnight Day,” Pins said. “I know it won’t be quite the same event but I’m excited for everyone to have the opportunity as well as? just to celebrate.”
Donations from UKnight Day come from parents, alumni, students and faculty throughout the day on March 25. This year’s goal is 1,852 donors to help raise money for the annual fund of UKnight Day, according to wartburg.edu.
“The funds from UKnight Day go towards the annual fund, which provides for all of the things we see around campus. Things that fall under the umbrella of the annual fund include scholarships, organization funding, event funding like homecoming or Outfly, faculty and staff funding, and updates to places on campus like the skywalks.”
Along with the increased goal of donors, the team for UKnight Day has also added new challenges for donors to participate in to help continue the fun and conversation about UKnight Day on social media throughout the day. New challenges include Sir Victor’s Quest where donors make a gift of $20.21, recruit five other donors and post to social media using the hashtag #UKnightDay and the Ultimate Knight Challenge where donors work to bring in as many other donors as possible.
“We’re excited about Sir Victor’s Quest and the Ultimate Knight Challenge so these are kind of referral-based or peer-to-peer efforts that all of our alumni students, faculty, staff, friends and parents can be engaged in,” Pins said. “If they make a gift, they will have their own unique link they can share, and then any donations that they’re influencing will show up through that link.”
Alumni, parents and faculty are not the only ones encouraged to donate on UKnight Day. Stange, Pins and Ruchotzke all said they would encourage current students of Wartburg to consider donating to UKnight Day to help promote and spread the message of UKnight Day to others.
“Current students at Wartburg should consider donating on UKnight Day because without the Annual Fund and donors before them, we wouldn’t be here,” Stange said. “With COVID-19, every place is struggling. We need donors now more than ever to keep Wartburg and opportunity for those who seek higher education, and a home, in the future.”
“You’re never going to regret being a part of it, even if it’s in the smallest way,” Pins said. “It’s really more so about hearing the stories like why you are here and what has made you love Wartburg or what are you excited about in the future.”For more information about how to get involved, contact Ruchotzke at firstname.lastname@example.org.