Tuesday, June 5, 2007

My 2 Cents

I have been to 3 universities for my 3 degrees, all private, all very expensive (just the thought of my $90,000 grad-school debt makes me throw up a little in my mouth). My first undergraduate degree (courtesy of my parents) was awarded to me by a prestigious southern college, an institution recognizable by its breathtaking and gated campus, old-south traditions, and a predominately Anglo student body with young adults who looked as if they had one foot in a J. Crew catalog and the other in a prestigious, stuffy law school.

It was its own unique type of hell.

It's hard for me to tease out my feelings about this school because even though I felt so screwed by it academically, financially and socially, I do count my friends from that place as among those very closest to my heart. (Some of those friends even survived the institution and subsequent prestigious law schools with a great amount of succulence intact.) I've been known to attend a few homecoming games and get a bit wistful when walking around campus (it is, after all, where I got engaged, many years later), but it has no real designs on my heart. I would not actively encourage my children to apply there.

Yesterday I received a large 8x10 envelope from the school, addressed to both me and my husband, who is not a graduate of said institution. The envelope was so large and somewhat grand that I had the fleeting fantasy that this might be an invitation of some sort. I've been known to do some guest lecturing on women's health there, so clearly they were granting me some honorary degree.

The contents turned out to be what I largely expected: fundraising propaganda. Let me preface this by saying 1)I know that schools are expected to do fundraising and that alumni should expect some degree of upper-echelon panhandling, and 2) I know that alumni gifts are credited with providing many opportunities for less-advantaged students. Even knowing these things I always bristle a bit at these requests. As the saying goes, you can't get blood from a turnip, and the way I see it, if Pete and I are able to scrape together a bit to give to a university, it will daggum sure be Andrew's future college, not the one who has already received a pretty penny from my parent's estate (to the tune of $100K +).

However, instead of just being able to shrug this off as yet another philanthropic opportunity for those graduates not living off a single, modest income, this year the institution urged us to consider ways that even the smallest donation could be a big help. And, in most cases, I believe this is true. We give to our church and other organizations not because we have a huge amount to give, but because I feel strongly that if everyone just gave a little, things could truly be improved for the human condition. Like famine. And health care. So I read on.

For example
, it said, $18 would buy a case of toilet paper - to roll the quad!!!!!!!

Oh my gosh! Why had I never considered this? How selfish of me!!! You mean for just $18, an amount that would provide a full course of vaccinations for an Ethiopian child, I could buy a whole case of toilet paper not to be used, but to decorate old Magnolia trees after our basketball team won a championship game???

Now that's where the little man can make a difference!!

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