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That'll Be $35, Please

Much has been said about Cornell's treatment of alumni, especially recent graduates. I was able to witness this treatment first-hand recently when I attended a gathering of Washington-area Cornellians at the University Club, dubbed a "pre-reunion" event.

Friends and I dressed up in our best suits, figuring that we'd probably be the youngest ones there. (We were.) But we figured that the $35 -- yes, $35 -- fee would surely be waived for recent, unemployed grads who just wanted to meet a few alums and maybe collect a few business cards. We even reasoned that we could skip the cash bar -- yes, cash bar -- and head straight for the free cheese and crackers.

My roommate was able to negotiate an understanding with one of the organizers, who seemed embarrassed to have to ask us for any money at all. She told us to go inside, and that she'd catch up with us later. Toward the end of the event, she found me and whispered uncomfortably, "$15 should be enough." To test her resolve, I produced $14 and made a show of trying to borrow a dollar from one of my friends. She didn't budge.

Fifteen dollars, and two lousy business cards. If they're trying to put me in the mood to donate later on, when I actually have money, they're taking the wrong approach. I've already shelled out $10 for a membership to the Cornell Club in Washington, which organized the event, and even more for a magazine subscription that should be subsidized. Cornell should seek to foster pride, not resentment, in its (future) alumni benefactors.

Andy Guess | Posted on May 03, 2006 (#)

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