The Third Alternative: The Oral History of Duquesne University's Third Alternative

The Plan

This group of students that called themselves the Third Alternative initially comprised of members of Student Government and other campus organizations. They were led by Rita Ferko and Patrick Joyce, who were inspired by the atmosphere of student involvement and responsibility in the early 1970s. Their goal was to raise a million dollars in order to keep Duquesne open and affordable. The group approached Fr. McAnulty with their plan and he agreed to let them start this movement. Their first step was to inform Duquesne students and staff about the financial situation. The Third Alternative was concerned about transparency from the beginning. So, they had Fr. McAnulty call for a campus-wide meeting in April 1970 to address students, faculty, and staff. He outlined the financial crisis in detail. Then Rita spoke about the students’ idea to save the school. Hundreds of students signed up to volunteer and help with the Third Alternative that day, marking the beginning of the movement.

Over the summer, the leaders of the movement worked on their plan to raise a million dollars. They started the campaign with a phonathon in June and helped the administration trim the budget to create a small surplus. When students returned to campus in the fall, the Third Alternative began a massive canvassing campaign that covered the entire Pittsburgh area. The campaign encouraged people to “be one in a million.” The movement set a goal of collecting at least one dollar from each person they interacted with. Students from all over the city mapped out neighborhoods, were loaded onto buses, and walked the streets collecting donations. The students were warmly received by local neighborhoods and their citizens. Tens of thousands of dollars was raised through this canvassing campaign. The Third Alternative concluded its canvassing campaign in November with a 94.6 mile march from Altoona to Pittsburgh; the distance that one million dollar bills would cover if they were laid end to end. The march was a token of the movement’s gratitude to all the Pittsburgh area residents who donated. As those students marched from Altoona, many other students marched through the neighborhoods they canvassed. The movement supplemented their canvassing efforts by writing to local alumni, corporations, and foundations to solicit donations.

The Third Alternative also raised money through special events during the 1970-1971 school year, including raffles, speaking tours, fundraisers during Homecoming, and sporting events. This movement incorporated many organizations and groups on campus, making the student body feel involved in the Third Alternative and its accomplishments. While the Third Alternative was involved on the local level, its members were still aware of the national and international events that influenced their movement.


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