Friday, January 18, 2013

What your school owes you

So my school is in the news making me sad again.  It claims to be a liberal arts college, but it's in the process of eliminating the philosophy major under less-than-aboveboard circumstances.  Recently a long-standing administrator may have been relieved of his duties under less-than-legitimate circumstances.  A faculty member was fired because the powers that be suddenly decided that it was suddenly not okay that he did not believe exactly what they wanted him to believe for the exact same reasons they did.  (They stressed that they were not questioning his orthodoxy, but apparently they didn't realize what they were stressing by the nature and circumstances of the action.)  Academic freedom for faculty members has been steadily being eroded, and the institution is no longer one I really wish to financially support.

Another school I graduated from recently eliminated part of the program that brought me to them in the first place.  Another school has changed its focus and purpose and is no longer doing the excellent work I loved it for.  Another school shamefully forgave a popular male athlete for a crime that they never considered forgiving female athletes for.  These institutions run by human beings keep making decisions I think are bad, and I don't want to support them when I could be using that money elsewhere to support institutions that are doing more things right.  If only they would stop doing things to make me sad, I would be more willing to (continue to) give them financial support.

But who am I to demand that they do what I want to keep getting me to give them my money?  Who am I to demand that they cater to me and my paltry amount of support?  What do they owe me individually as a graduate?  What do they owe their alumni as a whole?

One of the things that's been galling about all of these actions is that they appear to be driven by (I am assuming) old men in power who are very, very afraid of anything that does not match up exactly to what they believe.  And it is possible that these men are driven to these actions because they fear that the older, more conservative alumni with the most money to give would stop giving that money if the institution changes any more than it already has.  As a blogger I admire once said, it's pretty galling when you know you are in the category of acceptable loss.

The interesting thing is that this tactic may be very short sighted on the part of the current decision makers.  I mean, the current old men will grow old and die, and the future support will come from my generation eventually.  Or, at this rate, maybe it won't.  Maybe the institution will fade away because they have alienated my generation.  Or maybe it will thrive despite that.  It doesn't really matter.

What I am trying to figure out is if it is fair of me to deny my monetary support to the students who need it just because the old men who run the institution are currently acting in a manner I find offensive.  Is it? 

Is it childish of me to, well, take my toys and go because the other kids aren't playing the way I want them to?

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