Students, faculty reflect on broken records, camaraderie from Unite for USD
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Students, faculty reflect on broken records, camaraderie from Unite for USD

Unite For USD raised over $560,000 from more than 1,100 donors. The online fundraising event ran from Feb. 12-13.

This was only the second year of the mass donation event, but Whitney Alexander, Executive Director of Constituent Engagement at the USD Foundation, said they surpassed their goal. 

“We are absolutely happy with the results for Unite for USD. To more than double the amount of money we raised last year is exciting,” Alexander said. “Having surpassed (our goal of 1,000 donors) pretty substantially, we feel great about so many members of the Coyote community stepping up to support the university.”

Alissa Matt, USD’s Director of Alumni Engagement, said the milestones meant a lot to her and others involved. 

“Each time we met a milestone or unlocked a challenge gift was cause for excitement,” Matt said. “It was such a great feeling knowing that so many in the Coyote community chose to participate.” 

Alexander said she particularly enjoyed watching students encourage each other to contribute, as well as hearing stories from donors. 

“Those are the things that really resonate with me,” Alexander said. 

Unite For USD, Matt said, will try to increase opportunities for students, faculty and staff members. 

“While Unite for USD definitely has a digital engagement focus, physical attendance at events like the kickoff, basketball game and pop-up command centers provide an additional sense of camaraderie,” Matt said. 

This year’s inclusion of Charlie’s Cupboard, Alexander said, helped give on-campus students a reason to be involved in Unite For USD because Charlie’s Cupboard added some extra fun to the atmosphere of Unite for USD. 

“The student initiative, Charlie’s Cupboard, is something that sticks out to me as student involvement in Unite for USD was fairly low last year,” Alexander said. “This year was a different story and students were excited and rallied around Charlie’s Cupboard in a big way.” 

In addition to students being involved in Charlie’s Cupboard, two of the 16 Unite for USD initiatives were led by student organizations, the ESports Club and Coyote Crazies. 

Derek Bierschbach, ESPorts club president, said the club’s goal was to reach $3,000. Dakota PC Warehouse, a company that sells refurbished and re-certified technology products, agreed to do a matching gift. For every $3 the ESports club raised, Dakota PC Warehouse donated an additional $1. 

The ESports club plans on using the money to fund a new video game lab, which will help improve the group, Bierschbach said. 

“Everybody’s in the same place instead of playing in their own dorm room or their apartment all separate,” Bierschbach said. “It will make us better. It will increase the teamwork. It will really aid recruitment. It’s a big recruitment piece for us.” 

Bierschbach said the lab will be located in McKusick, where the old testing center was previously locatedThe plan for this lab, he said, actually originally came from USD, not the ESports Club. USD Vice President Kim Grieve contacted the club about this idea to help increase male recruitment, he said.  

Bierschbach said he hopes construction on the lab begins in the spring or summer and is complete by the Fall 2020 semester. Reflecting back on his experience at Unite For USD, Bierschbach said the wide variety of experiences stood out to him. 

“I just really liked that it was a whole day of campaigning and it’s like all different sorts of initiatives together. It’s not just campaigning for one thing and they’re all separate,” Bierschbach said. “I really like the collaboration between everybody for Unite for USD.”