The University of Virginia’s ultra-secret Seven Society today announced gifts totaling $115,554 to U.Va.’s Counseling and Psychological Services and the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center to “more broadly encourage the kind of action and attention necessary to realize the empathy and understanding that must lie at the heart of this place.”
The gifts came after the society raised banners around Grounds on Dec. 1 and offered a grant to support cultural change in the wake of a tumultuous fall semester that included the slaying of second-year student Hannah Graham, the deaths of two other students and a since-discredited Rolling Stone story alleging a gang rape at a U.Va. fraternity. The society solicited nominations for worthy beneficiaries for its gift of $57,777, which later was matched by an anonymous donor.
Early today, the society sent an email to U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan, Executive Vice President and Provost John D. Simon and Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer Patricia M. Lampkin announcing that it would give $77,777 to Counseling and Psychological Services and $37,777 to the Women’s Center.
The Seven Society, one of the University’s oldest secret societies, is best known for its behind-the-scenes good works and financial gifts to University initiatives – usually in amounts that include multiple digits of 7.
“CAPS was consistently nominated as an ideal recipient for the outstanding service and care that counselors provide daily to students,” the society’s letter said. “We hope that this gift may bolster their work toward providing students with the strength necessary to engage in the community of understanding and care that is our aim.”
At midday Monday, Tim Davis, director of Counseling and Psychological Services, said he had not yet received word of the gift. “I’m very excited and appreciative,” he said. “We will definitely put it to the best use possible to help students. I’m not sure yet what that will look like.”
He added, “This really means a lot to CAPS. Our staff works tirelessly on behalf of students, and specifically on behalf of students who need support. … It’s a very meaningful recognition to every member of our exquisitely talented staff.”
The Women’s Center’s gift came after the center sent a proposal to the society “aimed at cultivating student leadership on critical issues relating to gender and sex,” the society wrote.
Women’s Center Director Sharon Davie said she awoke to find a letter from the Seven Society tacked to the door of her rural Albemarle County home. “It’s so cool,” she said. “It’s just wonderful.”
The center recently received funding to hire a coordinator for outreach and education for its Gender Violence and Social Change Program, and has identified a candidate for the position. But until today, there was little budget, Davie said.
The funds will be used for a variety of educational and outreach activities, she said, including items such as intensive survivor support training sessions for faculty, staff and students and supporting a Men’s Leadership Program to pair college-student mentors with local middle-school youth.
“It’s primarily cultivating student leadership on these issues, and giving them the tools they need to be effective,” Davie said.