Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I have just received the Nth appeal for funds from my undergraduate alma mater, Little College on a Big Hill.

(If you have warm, fuzzy, open-walleted feelings toward your undergraduate school, I don't mean to suggest you shouldn't.  I merely don't.)

A lot of things happened that erased my warm and fuzzy feelings.  I was a chemistry major.  Of all the faculty who were there when I was a student, before I left: two got fired over a disagreement with the Provost against the unanimous vote of the department, one ditched her tenured job because her spouse was 900 miles away, one left her tenured job and went to vet school, and one retired.  In recent years, one also died suddenly.  This leaves exactly one faculty member who was there when I was a student.  I like him plenty - in fact, he was my advisor - but we didn't have a warm or fuzzy relationship.  Mostly he signed blank schedule forms for me and I filled them in later (when you show up at college with a four-year class plan for a double major including a year abroad, it turns out you don't need that much advising).

I was also a French major.  There were three French professors.  One I loathed, one I mildly disliked and found pratty, and the third was my advisor.   She retired.

In recent years, the college has going on a spending spree to the tune of seven new buildings and a remodel.  It's lovely that they now have apartments that don't leak, but I don't see why I should 'uphold the reputation of the school' by helping them build a new Division III sports center.

I graduated almost 11 years ago.  To date, I think I have sent them roughly $5.  Much like the fuzzy appeals of the graduate-student-union organizers ("But it will help other people!  And they can pay the scientists less and pay the rest of us more!"*) I find myself entirely unmoved.

* I actually think grad student unions are a fine idea, but the humanities people who recruited couldn't have sold milk to a calf.  If their plan benefits one group and not another, perhaps only one of these groups should join, no?  


  1. Anonymous8:11 AM

    My husband spent a summer working for his alumni foundation calling people and asking them for money. He said it was the most soul-destroying job he ever did, and it left such a strong negative impression that whenever I am called, I feel obliged to donate something out of pity for the person calling me. Happily, one advantage of living overseas is that you don't get these phone calls any more! (And the last one I received before we moved was actually rather amusing, since after the we'd exchanged a few sentences, we realized that she'd been a student in one of the classes I TA'd. She didn't recognize my name since I'd gotten married in the interim. We chatted for like 20 minutes, to save her from having to call the next person on the list.)

    1. My strategy is to not answer the phone when "Little College" shows up on Caller ID. Avoidance, you see.

  2. Anonymous1:12 PM

    Now I wonder why you sent them five dollars!

    I promised Berkeley that they could have an annual donation if they would not email me or send me any paper requests for anything, ever. I thought that was pretty fair. Some random guy in alumni services was like SURE! and I sent in my first donation. Since then it's been a barrage from the Cal alumni association. And they've not gotten any more money from me. So I still feel warmly towards the school and my department, just not in a wallety way.

    1. Made the mistake of picking up the phone once and some poor little undergrad was on the other end begging prettily for donations.

      Collection agencies could take a few lessons from Little College- I've moved four times in the last six years and they've tracked me down, correct phone number included, every time. As opposed to those people who couldn't be convinced that I wasn't Tyrone Jones.


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