Like every other night for the past few weeks my phone rang at about 9:45 PM. It was the same number again. For years the number had intermittently shown up on my caller ID, and I recalled that it was for some sort of Rutgers survey. At this point I just wanted the annoying late-night calls to stop, so I decided to pick up the phone.
I had remembered correctly. It was a survey about my experience at Rutgers. Most of the questions were pretty standard (i.e. "What did you like best about Rutgers?", "Did you participate in any activities?"), but I did not realize their more sinister purpose until a few minutes later.
I thought the interview was all-but-finished when the young woman on the other end of the line launched into the scripted marketing spiel. Wouldn't I like to give something back to Rutgers? I was told I could easily start at the $200 level and contribute funds directly to any department I wanted.
I stifled my anger and said that no, I was not interested in making a donation. In the privacy of my own mind, though, I was furious. I had already given tens of thousands of dollars to Rutgers in the form of tuition, fees, and parking tickets. Given that I did not get the education I wanted for the large sums of money I paid I was not about to fork over more of my hard-earned cash to an institution that treated me as little more than a source of funding.
The woman on the other end of the line was undeterred. If I was uncomfortable starting at the basic $200 level, she said, then maybe they could work out some other kind of payment plan. I stopped her in the middle of this speech and ended the call. All the preceding questions had been meant to stir up warm, fuzzy feelings about my experience at Rutgers so that I would open up my wallet to the university. Unfortunately for the RU telemarketing squad my experience at Rutgers has been overwhelmingly bad, and I certainly was not about to donate money to a school that thinks it is a good idea to take out $102,000,000 in loans to expand a football stadium while they raise tuition and cut back on academic programs.
Eventually, they will get you. It is foolish for you to believe that you are immune. Sure, hold out as long as you can, but it is only a matter of time.
You may already know this, but this approach is not unique to Rutgers. I receive a call like this every year from my old school, even though I finished my graduate program in '89. It is no less annoying now than it was when I was in school.
Good for you Brian! I keep getting e-mails from Georgetown Law asking for money - even though Georgetown Law graduates this year are unemployed and unable to find jobs in record numbers. Despite this, the fundraising e-mails keep coming... Keep holding out.
When I donate my presently small donations to my alma maters (and it's almost never in response to direct marketing calls), I stipulate that the money go to a particular department or program. I don't think I'll ever donate to the general fund at my undergrad (or grad) alma maters, but I will happily donate to the geology museum and the anatomy department (I know they'll both use it well!).
I get those calls from Rutgers as well, often. The especially infuriating element in my case is that I am *still* a student at Rutgers. Yes, I have a Master's degree from Rutgers so am technically an alumna, but I am still enrolled at Rutgers as a student. What's more, I'm still in the same PhD program in which I initially entered the University (the Master's was in passing) and have never disenrolled. I also get emails offering me the opportunity to meet with Dean Greenberg for a modest donation.
Rutgers still gets their money from me every semester and yet Alumni Relations thinks I'm a good target to shake down. The other post-Master's students in my discussion group don't report this same phenomenon, so I'm not quite sure what box on a form I checked in error at some point.
I had thought you were still a student there - most perplexing! My wife experienced a similar phenomenon at Stony Brook (calls from the alumni office to a current student), when she got her "Master's in Passing" in the course of her Ph.D. program in physics. Apparently they can't be bothered to cross-reference the current student list with the alumni list.
Next time they call, answer. Then ask to be put on their do not call list.
The student on the other end will be disheartened, but you will stop getting the calls.
You have to do this for every good cause that solicits money from you.
It's a pain at first, but actually less so than checking caller ID three times a day and asking yourself, "do I know anyone in [location indicated by area code]?"
Being a technologically advanced institution, MIT pleads for money using e-mails instead of phone calls. All the better for me — my spam filters don't even mind the extra work!
With state funding getting less over time, I understand that State Universities have to try to find new sources of funding, and unfortunately they don't have the endowment and extremely-wealthy donor base of a Harvard. But I also find it disturbing that often the Intercollegiate Athletic Department is subsidized by the rest of the university, rather than the other way around.
As you feel annoyed by the stadium expense,
I still feel annoyed by an 'Athletic fee' providing no benefits, which all of us graduate students/assistants had to pay (at another East-coast State U.) followed by an announcement of the Athletic Department next year that it was one of few who were in the black (not having a deficit); well that was by taxing the underpaid graduate assistants. My main economic contribution to my (Graduate) University was several years of indentured slavery as a underpaid Teaching Assistant. --
The nagging for you to become member of an alumni club or similar might reflect insights from 'donor development science;' if they get you to join or contribute, your contribution may just be a bit more than the cost of mailing materials, contacting you... but in the case that you should become fabulously wealthy, you might be more likely to remember your Alma Mater (with a million-$ gift) if you were already member of some Alumni Association (and thereby regularly reminded of your school)
Maybe I need to perform more enemas/milkshakes to solidify the flora replacement. Or maybe I need to reevaluate the root of my symptoms, which may not be related to gut flora as much as I think they are. I seem to have the most problems with high fat meals, so maybe I need to address fat digestion problems.
I fear for my future now. This sounds EXACTLY like what Purdue University is doing, and they are even funding me for my master's degree. Â¬_Â¬
@Andy: I stopped giving money to my old school when the university took over fundraising from the department and I couldn't give anything to particular scholarships or w/ever.