an op-ed piece that comes at just the right time with holidays around the corner. At what point do gifts become less meaningful and more of a formality?
I have sat on several boards and a common theme I hear is how much we should give our speakers or faculty that helped during a wet lab. Is this present only in my school? No. I have meet other students during symposiums and conventions and know that speaker gifts are common. We ask these DVMs and other speakers if they would like to volunteer their time to progress our knowledge. Most if not all gladly say yes for the philanthropic aspect, these people enjoy helping future colleagues. Many are even repeat speakers and I highly doubt they return for the gifts, and if so are these the type of speakers we want?
Some students even base the size of their gifts on the size of a speaker, especially those that were flown in or paid to speak. What I don’t understand is how some student organizations can afford to compensate a speaker more by adding a gift. Just because these speakers were paid, are well-known, or flown in, do they deserve something more than those speakers who are local or were not compensated?
Sometimes I feel gift giving is a way to cop-out on writing an actual thank you. A thank you note should not be written in advance, but after the event. How can you truly thank someone before the deed has been accomplished? I think a thank you note should include a learning or enjoyable aspect taken from the event.
What I fear is that this will become a cycle, where students expect to give gifts and speakers expect to receive them. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate these speakers, enjoy learning from them, and do believe they should receive the utmost gratitude, appreciation and thanks. Am I saying not to give any gifts? No, but don’t worry about it being too little or not enough.
It is just my opinion, but thank all your speakers equally, give feedback, and don’t worry about the size of gifts.
Michigan State University