The point is, it is rude to make it mandatory to chip in for a gift. I don't care who does it or the size of the company or what their traditions are, it's just rude all the way. Have it be a choice, not an order. This is no different than requiring people to buy gifts for a wedding or birthday party.
agreed, but perhaps the issue was that someone simply wasnt thinking about the 'new girl' and this email was just a confirmation of a previous discussion, sent to an automatic distribution group, (which now includes the new girl). Defnitely rude to the new girl, but just a confirmation to the others.
I agree that lavish gifts for higher-ups are generally a poor idea, but we have no other information except what the OP posted, and she was clearly more concerned about being told to donate and how much than about the etiquette of purchasing gifts for supervisors (since she's only been there two weeks, she doesnt really know protocol yet).