10 August 2010

Alumni Aren't Always Rich

This is the third time that I got a call from the university. This is the call that starts as friendly, and yet the ultimate purpose of the call is to ask for your money.

So, I graduated with a masters degree back in June 2009. Thus, my contact information is on file with the university's Office of Alumni Relations. And as with all alumni offices, they have this itch to ask for money from their graduates.

So, last Sunday, I got a call. It started with a guy greeting me "Good afternoon Dr. LIW." I responded by saying "Umm, not in a few years, but yes, this is Mr. LIW." I mean hello, they should put in their records that I graduated with a masters degree, and not a doctorate.

So this guy tries to be friendly, and even though I already knew what the point of the phone call was, I obliged. I told him that even though technically I am an alumnus of the university, I am also still a student, which makes it weird that they are already calling me.

So he asks me which department, and I tell him. He also asks if I am working, and I told him that I am a teaching assistant, and he asks me when I am scheduled to graduate. And then he gets to the point, finally. He is asking for a small donation of 50 USD.

So I told him that as a graduate student, I am not rich. He should know that. He replies by saying that small donations from us students can motivate big companies like Verizon to donate big money as well. So in the back of my head, I thought, isn't that the university's job to convince these big companies to donate money, instead of the students? I am already paying a couple hundred dollars every semester just to pay for the one credit that I need for continuous enrollment. It should not be my job to motivate big companies to donate and invest in the university.

Anyway, I didn't feel like telling that, and I was afraid that if I did, I would just end up being impolite. So I just told him directly, to call me after a year or two, after I graduate, and when I am already an alumnus, a real alumnus, and I will see what I can do. Because right now, I am really not inclined to give a donation to the university.

(Temple Garden, from my Qorikancha Series)


  1. Gosh, I would have been annoyed as well! Students in general aren't rich, and on top of that, they are often in debt in North America. Sure $ 50 is a relatively small amount, ye if I had to give, I would give to United Way or the Mission. I pay enough in scholarship...

    One of my former students worked at calling alumni one summer when she was herself a student. She told me she had been assigned to the music department alumni... eh eh, no surprise, most of them were struggling and not in position to give big bucks.

  2. Zhu,

    I think so too. I pay enough to the university that I don't feel like giving more, at least at this point.