Phone Appeal goes ahead despite Covid-19 lockdown

Despite New Zealand going into level 4 Covid-19 lockdown in August, this year’s semester 2 phone appeal continued as planned.

Student callers photographed before the Covid-19 lockdown.
Student callers photographed before the Covid-19 lockdown.

The phone appeal is a chance for current students to connect with alumni in New Zealand and overseas, with funds raised through the appeal going towards student support.

Although last year’s phone appeal was also interrupted by the pandemic - with a scaled-back effort held after the appeal had to be postponed due to Covid restrictions - in 2019 a total of 22,448 phone calls were made to alumni, with $81,064 raised.

Alice Sopp is one of around 40 student callers taking part in the appeal this year.

She is currently in her final year of a BA degree majoring in politics and communications and has done three phone appeals during her time as a student.

She says as well as raising money for a worthy cause, the best part of participating in the appeal is getting the chance to connect with alumni who studied the same degree as her.

“I've spoken to people who have won Oscars, I've spoken to top entrepreneurs and famous politicians - which is crazy because obviously you don't really get the opportunity to talk to people like that in real life,” she says.

“You just hear these amazing stories, and when you realise they studied the same degree as you, you pretty much go into orbit - it's like you spend the rest of your shift thinking ‘wow I really could do that if I applied myself’.”

Although the lockdown initially brought some technical challenges for students involved in the appeal, due to the need for calling to be done remotely, Sopp says there have also been some advantages to the unusual circumstances.

“Personally I've found the lockdown to be a really good icebreaker. You get the opportunity to talk to alumni about the pros and cons of lockdown and it makes the conversation flow a bit easier because everybody's in the same boat."

And while some alumni may at first be a little surprised to get a phone call from their alma mater, most welcome the chance to talk to current students.

“They really do open up to us, and the key point, I think, is when they realise the people calling them are still students and they are studying the same degree that the alumni did. So when we actually get into asking them about their degree and their time at uni, a lot of them get really nostalgic and they offer really good advice to students who are still going through it,” says Sopp.

“A lot of them also give really generous donations towards the university scholarships and funds, so it's really inspiring talking to people who haven’t been to uni in 30 or 40 years and still having a connection with them and them wanting to give back to the uni."

Media contact

Helen Borne | Communications Manager
Alumni Relations and Development