Op-ed: To give or not to give to Georgetown?

(Editor’s Note: From time to time when the Voice is not printing, we post opinion pieces written by Voice staffers on the blog. The following op-ed, in which soon-to-be-graduate Sam Sweeney examines Georgetown’s attitude toward its students, is the author’s opinion only and does not represent the views of the Voice or an endorsement of his opinion.)

Friday morning I stopped by the Leavey Program Room to register for Senior Week. I didn’t have much reason to—I’ll be in New York for my twin sister’s graduation during most of the events, but registration is free and comes with a t-shirt. And I never turn down a free t-shirt.

To receive a Senior Week bracelet, which admits you to a week’s worth of boozy events, you must show your Go-Card and state ID. On the registration table is a piece of paper that begins, “READ ALOUD,” and lists three points: (1) that the bracelet can’t be stretched, cut, or broken and is needed for admittance to all events; (2) that both IDs are needed for off-campus events with alcohol; (3) that seniors haven’t graduated yet and any violation of the student Code of Conduct, on or off campus, could affect our ability to graduate.

In order to get a bracelet, I was required to read the whole sheet aloud right there. “Why?” I asked. It’s the policy of the Center for Student Programs, I was told, and has been for a number of years.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. Being a student at Georgetown often means being subjected to such small indignities. And, of course, I did end up reading the statement aloud, slowly and deliberately, the CSP staffer hovering in front of me, ready to reward my obedience with a bright orange bracelet.

That having been said, my reaction is this: What the hell? I am 22 years old, a week away from graduating, and Georgetown feels compelled not only to remind me that my actions have consequences, but to also suggest that I am so thick-headed that I must read a statement aloud in order to understand so. I couldn’t read the statement to myself and then sign it?

If Georgetown doesn’t feel I’m responsible enough to consume alcohol at these events, fine. Don’t serve me alcohol. But if it believes I’m responsible enough to consume alcohol, don’t force me to read a statement with the implicit assumption that, as a college student, I need to be told not to make a drunken, obnoxious spectacle of myself. It’s grossly insulting and entirely unnecessary.

I make this complaint not just because I’m angry about being forced to read a statement—although, clearly, I am. Rather, I think this episode illustrates what has been a reoccurring theme of my Georgetown experience—the institution’s persistent paternalistic attitude towards students.

This attitude is often apparent in the small, day-to-day interactions with Georgetown’s bureaucracy. Bailey Heaps touched on this in an excellent Hoya opinion piece two years ago.

“[S]tudents are far too often rubbed the wrong way by impersonal, even unfriendly, experiences with services like the Student Health Center, Housing, and Facilities,” he wrote. “They feel as though these operations should exist to help students, yet students are treated like an unwelcome burden when they require that help.”

It’s also evident in the University’s broader policies and dealings with students. During the funding reform which took place this year, the most compelling pro-reform argument to me was that the it would finally put power in the hands of students—that students at Georgetown, unlike so many of our peers, have a fraction of the power to control our own college experience that many of our collegiate peers enjoy.

This sentiment was echoed by the former and current Hoya staffers I spoke to when reporting on a story about Hoya independence. For years, the University just didn’t want to give up control of the “Hoya” trademark to students, who, they felt, could not be trusted to appropriately represent the university they attend. In many areas, this attitude from the administration is unfortunately familiar to students at Georgetown.

When I was in the Program Room, a fellow senior came up to me to encourage me to donate to the Class of 2010 Fund. She gave me a flier, which I folded and put in my pocket. I will not be donating to the Class of 2010 Fund, in no small part because of the problems I’ve outlined here. Judging from the Class of 2010’s abysmal 40 percent participation rate, I can’t help but wonder if Georgetown’s paternalism has put off other seniors from donating as well.

This is a significant problem for Georgetown. As Jim Langley, the former head of the Office of Advancement, told me last fall, the key to building a successful donor base is getting to alumni early on so that donating to Georgetown becomes a habit. Get poor 22-year-olds to donate five dollars each and they’re significantly more likely to donate $1,000 later when they’re rich 35-year-olds. I plan on giving generously to my high school when I’m older, but I have no similar inclination to donate to Georgetown.

So, if not for students, then at least for itself, Georgetown should change its ways. If it’s to continue to grow and advance as an institution, Georgetown needs to reevaluate the way it interacts with its students. We’re not perfect, but we deserve better than this.

45 Comments on “Op-ed: To give or not to give to Georgetown?

  1. Odd you complain about the University’s “paternalistic attitude towards students” by linking to a piece begging DeGioia to “engage your students more. Make sure you are at Mr. Georgetown, Rangila, Cherry Tree Massacre and the Syracuse basketball game. And don’t just be there. Congratulate the performers. Mingle with the crowd.”

    Seems to me you just want a reason to complain, and uphold the Georgetown stereotype of ungrateful, pompous, and privileged students.

  2. First of all, its NOT uncommon for policies like the ones you highlighted to either be read aloud by all members who are participating, or to sign a code of conduct.

    Second, you ask to be treated like adults, yet act like children…or better yet animals with so sense of self dignity at these senior week events.

    Third, if the school didn’t ask you to read them aloud you would forget them and then complain that you weren’t told you needed both IDs for off campus events.

  3. This article is a perfect example of melodramatic sensationalism combined with inexcusable ignorance.

    Reading statements aloud is quite comment, as it ensures the person actually reads the policy/code/etc. I had to read the three line drug policy of my employer aloud before signing, as well as a statement about the ramifications of identity fraud after losing my passport. Luckily I did not have the same sense of righteous outrage as the author or I would be unemployed and passport-less.

    If you want to stop being treated like a baby, stop acting like one. Perhaps you should read that aloud before trying to write an op-ed in the future.

  4. Sam’s right. When I got my senior bracelet I had to actually read aloud the oath thing twice, because apparently I didnt read it “clearly enough” the first time. The res life and csp staff there were even bitchier and ruder than usual. Although i did contribute my $5 to gtown, and will probably be guilt-tripped into doing so again, its times like these that make me swear i’ll never give them another dime.

    @grow up, Speaking of which, dont you university staff have anything better to do than leave bitchy comments on student blogs?

  5. I think it is obvious that at least two of the above commenters, and probably all three, are not current students or young alums. I’m betting they are: (1) Georgetown neighbors (Stephen Brown, anyone?) or (2) University staff. There’s REALLY no way Grow Up is a student because not even the most Debby-Downer student would say “[Y]ou ask to be treated like adults, yet act like children…or better yet animals with so sense of self dignity at these senior week events.”

    As a young alum, I completely agree with ALMOST this entire op-ed, and I would bet heavily that most students and young alums agree with it. (I would say that reading the statement out loud is not really the most egregious example of the problem, but I see what you’re getting at.)

    What I disagree with is the bottom line: not donating. I have donated and will continue to do so because, flaws aside, Georgetown means something to me, and I want to see it get better.

    Bottom line: (1) these top three commenters are way off the mark and do not reflect student sentiment; the op-ed reflects student sentiment, (2) Georgetown does suffer from the serious flaws outlined in the op-ed, but (3) it’s still worthwhile to donate back to your alma mater.

  6. I think this post misses a few important points.

    First, whatever one’s opinion about Georgetown student services, they are hardly close to the sum-total of the University or the value of the University to students. A recent grad, I look back at my Georgetown experience fondly despite various headaches with the usual suspects, because on the whole I think it’s a tremendous place that gave me the resources and support to excel. The professors, the classes, some of my deans, the student organizations, offices like CSJ, athletics, etc. are all really great things I felt like have been invaluable to my development.

    When I decide to give I obviously have to weigh whether I think my gift is going to be used well or not, but I think its important to be realistic and balanced about the University’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Most importantly, Georgetown makes it really easy to pick what you want to support. You can direct your gift to very specific offices and programs. So if you dislike CSP or housing or whatnot, that’s fine. Don’t give to the University in general. Pick the ASK program or the theater department or your favorite sports team. A lot of student orgs even have gift accounts so you can send it right back to your friends.

    Obviously you may have other reasons you can’t or don’t want to donate, but it seems silly to harm the rest of the valuable programs and people you may like and appreciate b/c you’re mad at a couple people in another department.

  7. I should add I don’t work for the Unversity or anything, just a regular alum.

  8. Whine, whine, whine…

    Sorry Sam, but you’ll be obeying rules, signing forms, and bowing down to authority figures the rest of your life. So why not realize that “the man” doesn’t exist, and just get over yourself?

    You don’t seem mature enough to justify getting that diploma.

  9. @ Tim

    I graduated in ’06. Young enough for you?

  10. @quit whining, deriding the administration as paternalistic is not at odds with wanting the president to be on an interactive level with students. In fact, they are quite logically connected.

    I agree with Tim and Sam and in my experience this paternalistic attitude is institutionalized from the housing office, as he cites, to the College deans. To respond to those commentators who take issue with Sam feeling belittled by having to read the conduct statement, this one incident, as he writes, is an example of the larger problem of the Georgetown administration so nitpicking that part of the argument is merely a sign that you did not follow the structure of his editorial.

    To the other obviously non-student commenters, a place exists on this blog for your points of view and, in many cases, they are welcome when written with a cool temper and an open mind. Perhaps if your tone were less hostile then even on this post, one that is only easily understandable from a student’s perspective and addressed to those within the university community, your opinion would be constructive. This is not the case, unfortunately. It takes two sides to make a nice neighborhood.

  11. I really enjoyed reading this post and I’m glad Sam wrote it because I know at least most of my friends feel the same way. But I also agree with Nick. There are plenty of offices and groups that do really valuable work and I plan on supporting them.

  12. I don’t understand the knee-jerk reaction so many posters have when undergrads complain about some “authority”, be it the administration, CAG, Res Life, etc. The argument seems to be that Georgetown students are spoiled and immature and consequently sacrifice the right to have legitimate complains.

    I am missing the link between identifying problems with the University and “the Georgetown stereotype of ungrateful, pompous, and privileged students”. Is the implication here that if a student is poor and black they can complain but Joe Hoya cannot?

    Anyone who has spent time dealing with Facilities, Res Life, the Office of Student Conduct, Housing, Student Affairs or other mechanisms of the University would not disagree with Sam’s overall message. Maybe his example of the senior week pledge isn’t the best example, but chiding him for being whiny and childish isn’t fair nor accurate.

  13. I never understand why Voice commenters always accuse one another of being staff/neighbors/etc … do we really think that these people take the time to read and comment on the Voice’s blog? I would bet 80% of the student body has never posted a comment up here and about 40% have never even read it, so why do we think all these neighbors and whatnot are checking?

    That point aside, I agree with some of the above comments. Some aspects of gtown are really annoying way too often but there are also a lot of good ones. I think most of the problems are just the result of having a bureaucracy like every other university but sometimes i get the feeling that the university is more concerned with maintaining an image of “an institute of higher learning and intellectual blah blah blah” that they sacrifice the good of the students.

    Still its dumb to not donate at all – just specify the organizations you like.

  14. All you have to do to see what Georgetown thinks of its students is to take a tour of the fifth floor of Leavey, then repeat that tour on the fourth floor.

    Or how about the stairs to ICC basement? Enjoy shoulder-to-shoulder traffic under stalactites of dirt and foam on your way to the windowless warrens where One-Eyed Willy hides his treasure.

    I remember well as an undergraduate having to dance the room-reservation shuffle, having to hold my hand out to the house slaves of SAC for an extra dollar, having to ask the Dean, the Assistant Dean, the assistant to the Assistant Dean, for a signature, a sign-off, for permission to be.

    I remember it well, and I see those same administrators a decade later still working on campus, still pulling six figure salaries, still employing full time assistants, being paid salaries that are greater than the budgets of the student groups they are supposed to oversee and aid. They did a good job making me a non-donor for life; it looks like their labors continue to bear dead fruit.

  15. @ A Georgetown Undergrad

    Thanks, person-even-younger-than-Sam, for your invaluable pseudo-adult advice on life.

    Here’s a little advice for you: when constructing a straw man, make it at least plausible. The author’s not complaining about “obeying rules” or “signing forms,” which would be pretty indefensible. His complaint is with how the rules are enforced and, in this instance, how a form is completed.

  16. I should probably clarify my point, because a number of commenters have argued that my complaint alone really isn’t a legitimate reason for not donating to Georgetown. I agree. For me, it’s one among a number of reasons. Briefly, my personal decision not to give is also motivated by where I believe my money can be most effective, where it can do the most good; by this metric, there are places other than Georgetown that I believe are better choices.

    But my personal decision not to give is, in the broad scheme of things, insignificant. My primary point was that Georgetown’s attitude towards students could be one factor motivating its poor fundraising performance. And that if Georgetown wants to improve its fundraising, it needs to think about how it interacts with students.

  17. “My primary point was that Georgetown’s attitude towards students could be one factor motivating its poor fundraising performance. And that if Georgetown wants to improve its fundraising, it needs to think about how it interacts with students.”

    Anyone who disagrees with this must have either never attended Georgetown or never tried to interact with University administration/employees.

  18. “Anyone who disagrees with this must have either never attended Georgetown or never tried to interact with University administration/employees.”

    Hear Hear!

  19. As a Senior graduating this year, I have had my fair-share of headaches with Georgetown’s red tape. But overall, one memory I will take from Georgetown is my experience of being treated as a person and having people from this same Georgetown administration actually show care and concern for my growth as a human. In 5 years (heck, even next year) I’ll have forgotten the times that OCAF screwed up my room reservation request, but I will never forget how much I grew as a person, and because of this, I gave and will continue to give (albeit a small amount) to Georgetown

  20. Sam,
    Is there not a student group or department that has had a large influence on your time here at Georgetown. For example, I (about to graduate on Saturday) chose to donate my contribution to the Department of Performing Arts for the growth it is currently experiencing and the fantastic experiences and memories that will stay with me. You don’t want to donate to the General Fund? Believe me, I understand, but i’m sure there is a part of your Georgetown experience that you would want to reward for the memories.

  21. I agree with Sam whole-heartedly and am not donating for pretty much the same reason. I railed against the administration for years, and in my final days at Georgetown, breathtakingly saw them act in exactly the most absurd ways I had ever portrayed them. In contrast, my interaction with professors and other students was probably the most rewarding experience of my life thus far and never had a whiff of the incompetence and paternalism of the administration. I, unlike Class of 2010, cannot say I ever saw the administration “show care and concern for my growth as a human,” unless you count Jesuits. It was quite the opposite. I was torn on donating, though, but when I thought about it, the administration talks about the giving rate like it’s an indication of the senior class’s love for Georgetown and appreciation for their wonderful experience there, a final act of good girls and boys doing what they’re supposed to do, and I can’t be part of that statistic. I may donate in the future to one of the departments and to the basketball team, which would probably still help prop up a regime that gets power from its ability to feed the endowment, but I’m not going to be part of that statistic now.

  22. This analysis is absolutely spot-on and highlights a very commonly held opinion by Georgetown students and graduates. Go look at alumni donation rates for USNWR top 25 universities. Georgetown is in the bottom 5, beating out only a few public universities (where donation rates are typically lower). This isn’t because Georgetown graduates are less financially successful than their peers at other prestigious schools: its because Georgetown (the administrative aspects at least) give you absolutely no incentive to give back.

    Its strangely ironic that the school ends up turning off the most active and engaged students more than anyone else. If I were to have done no extracurricular work over my four years here, I’d probably be relatively oblivious to the state of Georgetown’s maddening bureaucracies. Anyone who is heavily engaged in a club or organization can easily relate to to this op-ed.

    Like Sam (with whom I share another alma matter) I will be giving first and foremost to my high school and, in theory, my law school, well before Georgetown.

  23. I’m going to attempt to make a nuanced argument, which is almost always a mistake in a web comments section. First, let me identify myself a little, as some of the critical commenters failed to do. I graduated from Georgetown a few years ago and was actively involved in student life here before I did.

    In my four years, I had similar experiences to the ones Sam complains about. I felt insulted when CSP or Housing or DPS or some other university bureaucrat treated me like a child. My larger problem though is that the University acted more as a middle school vice principal than as a parent.

    I don’t mind admitting that 18-22 year olds are children, I mind that the University seems to see fit to intrude in the lives of students to scold or to punish, but rarely to encourage. Hall directors administer penalties to students who misbehave, but know nothing of the lives of many struggling freshmen who manage not to be written up. Academic advisors are there for failing students, but only help passing students who go begging for help finding direction. Off campus student life is there when neighbors complain, but where are they protecting the rights of students forced off campus into often crummy rentals. In my day, CSP staff were there to tell student groups what they couldn’t do, but I don’t recall them working with students to see that organizations flourished.

    I don’t mean to make blanket complaints, a few members of the University community were great, and there to help be become a better person, but this was the exception, not the rule. Perhaps if the University had done more to encourage, the occasional curfews and punishments would have been easier to take.

    N.B. I do give to the University as an alum, but reluctantly, and with the hope that my continued participation in the community will all me to influence its growth in the future.

  24. Also, the first three responses were inane, in that they accused the author of being childish/feeling entitled, but then dismissed his points out of hand without any substance.

    If reading that stupid warning out before Senior Week was the only instance of Georgetown’s utter disregard for student welfare, I think we would all be quite pleased. I think Sam chose it because it is emblematic of every facet of the Georgetown administration. I can assure you, people at other top schools do not have to deal with organizations like SAC in the same manner Georgetown students have to…

  25. Who cares. I hope no one chose to attend Georgetown because of its administration. You went or currently go because of its basketball team, obviously.

  26. @Marc All you have to do is donate $3,000 a year for 50 years and you’ll cover one year of that wonderful, helpful, useful collection of flesh Ron Lignelli’s salary. Sound good?

  27. As a current student very involved in student life, activities etc. I have learned that OCAF SAC CSP ETC. basically every abbreviation except SFS and CSJ is a headache, and my suspicion is many people working administrative posts in these bureaucracies dont have much incentive to care about their work. That said, I will give to Georgetown. Giving to your alma mater, unless it really did something horrible to you, is simple decency. I wouldnt have been able to come to Georgetown if it were not for donating alums, and annoying interactions with middling bureaucrats say very little about the university as a whole and our bonds to it. So if it was up to me, I would clean house and restructure most of the dreaded abbreviations- but probably the best I will be able to do is donate and hope that along with my fellow peers we can leave an impact.

    also, i think most good universities have these same problems. The exception is those that have toons of money. hmm…

  28. I really have no idea why I am posting on this comment section since clearly the people commenting are people who want to anonymously flaunt they are not giving or are simply people from CasualHoya who are just bored because no substantial basketball news is happening. But anyway, I had too good of a time at the Senior keg party that I feel the need to post:

    To start off, thanks to J. Stuef for making a level-headed argument relating to his own experiences: “my interaction with professors and other students was probably the most rewarding experience of my life thus far.” Georgetown is more than just a normal school and these relationships help foster the growth the university desires in its graduates.

    @Ben Sinister: What the hell is your post trying to convey? You direct it to Marc who pretty much says you don’t have to pay it to Ron’s salary if you don’t want to (Some money might go to Ron, but more than not it will be beneficial to the future students of Georgetown who also do Performing Arts).

    Chris D: Yes, SAC is not ideal or good at all, but I’m sure you benefitted from some other facet of GTown that is much better than peer institutions.

    Chris D (again):

    I really don’t know where to begin?! “This analysis is absolutely spot-on and highlights a very commonly held opinion by Georgetown students and graduates.” A “very commonly held opinion”=this is my opinion and I want base my argument in assuming others believe this also (you’re over generalizing with no fact).

    “Go look at alumni donation rates for USNWR top 25 universities. Georgetown is in the bottom 5,” OK, where does Georgetown rank overall within the top 25…oh, the bottom 5 of the top 25 out of the many schools evaluated.

    “This isn’t because Georgetown graduates are less financially successful than their peers at other prestigious schools: its because Georgetown (the administrative aspects at least) give you absolutely no incentive to give back.” Well than stay away from the administrative aspects. The administrative aspects were a small part of the overall beneficial time I had at Georgetown. You’re clearly focusing on the negatives of your time at Georgetown, unless you had no positives, in which case you shouldn’t give back to Georgetown; but in which case you also threw away $200,000.

    “Its strangely ironic that the school ends up turning off the most active and engaged students more than anyone else. If I were to have done no extracurricular work over my four years here, I’d probably be relatively oblivious to the state of Georgetown’s maddening bureaucracies. Anyone who is heavily engaged in a club or organization can easily relate to to this op-ed.” Please don’t use the word “anyone” to assume the entire class can relate to this op-ed and don’t want to donate. I donated and was “heavily engaged in a club” but I have taken only positive experiences from this, and these experiences only want me to donate to Georgetown more. Also, a lot of the people involved with SCC or the Georgetown Fund were heavily related and engaged to Georgetown and have found a need to donate.

    Ultimately, I just don’t like the generalizations. If you don’t want to donate, don’t; but don’t assume your reasons can be generalized to the entire class, because they can’t; and if they’re simply you’re own reasons not to donate, there’s no reason you need to post them to us…actually send them to someone who might care

  29. Class of 2010:

    You do exactly what you chide the other posters for.

    For example: “Also, a lot of the people involved with SCC or the Georgetown Fund…” or “You’re clearly focusing on the negatives of your time at Georgetown, unless you had no positives…” or “and if they’re simply you’re own reasons not to donate, there’s no reason you need to post them to us”. All of those use generalizations without any semblance of fact to back them up.

    Stop being Mr. “I’m so above posting on Internet comment sections that I’m going to chastise anyone who does… by making a post on that site”. That kind of post is self-serving and helps no one. I appreciate the fact that you chose to donate and respect you for that, but that doesn’t automatically mean that those of us who are expressing substantial negative experiences with the University are wrong, misguided or are only focusing on the negatives. Your willingness to over look them does not make my or Steuf’s inability to any less valid.

  30. Bigger question – why is Sweet Lax Bro awake at 9:55am. Given the name I figure he wouldn’t be up until 2pm, at the very earliest.


  31. “I plan on giving generously to my high school when I’m older, but I have no similar inclination to donate to Georgetown.”

    My thoughts, exactly, Sam. This is one thing an Exeter and Andover grad can agree on.

  32. I certainly had my share of such frustrations as well, though for me, the good far outweighed the bad. I also was able, both at the time and since then, to get more insight into how and why the system worked as it did. Two particular issues come into play:

    1. Universities are held responsible for everything their students do, if not always legally then at the very least in the eyes of the public and the media. If people would stop treating universities as ‘in loco parentis,’ I think you would see less of a parental (which seamlessly blends into paternalistic) attitude. But as long as the prevailing view – look no further than our lovely neighbors for prime examples – is that college students are overgrown children whose care and feeding is the responsibility of the schools they attend, this dynamic will prevail. To use some specific examples: no one holds the University of Alabama at Huntsville responsible for that professor going off the deep end and shooting up her colleagues. The Postal Service isn’t held to blame for people going “postal.” But people want to know why Virginia Tech didn’t help or otherwise stop the shooter Cho, UVA is made to answer for their drug-and-rage addled lacrossassin, etc.

    2. Going through channels: In the professional world, there are procedures that are to be followed for when issues arise, and (in theory) a professional demeanor and tone should be maintained as the issue is addressed. Setting aside the effectiveness of the procedures, they exist in order to offer some degree of transparency, regularity, and fairness. Students operate in a very different world. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen students decide that the way to get what they want is to send off angry, disrespectful emails with a list of demands, even if the person on the receiving end has little or nothing to do with the issue at hand. I understand frustration, and have felt plenty of it myself toward parts of the bureaucracy, but the lack of common courtesy on the part of a significant number of students is appalling and does lead to an unfortunate bunker mentality among some administrators. I hate the view held by some admin folks that letting students have a say is akin to “letting the inmates run the asylum.” How unfortunate, then, that no small number insists on acting outside the boundaries of courtesy and decency. The Plan A Brigade is a highly visible example of this, but there’s countless behind-the-scenes interactions that exemplify it as well.

  33. A major issue is this: I like Georgetown enough, sure, but I paid $200,000 to come here for four years. An argument that I should somehow feel obligated to help the university and future students is total bunk; the only reason I (or anyone) should donate is because they feel some special connection to the University. It obviously depends a lot on how you view ‘University,’ but if Georgetown admin on the whole makes me feel pretty bothered by things over my four years, then I’m not going to feel that special connection. Which I think gets to the core of Sweeney’s argument – if you want to get people to donate, make them feel wanted. You don’t make them feel wanted with rude interactions and condescension.

    Also, @Young Alum point 2 – I’ve actually had the exact opposite. I always email/talk knowing that I’m asking a favor and this person would help me out. I’m not pissed that a lot of times it doesn’t come true, I’m more pissed at how it’s handled. When someone just responds ‘No.’ with no explanation at all to a reasonable request that leaves you feeling pretty cold.

  34. Adding in: I also don’t think that having good professors (or nice professors) is really something that makes any special connection to the University. I expect at most schools many professors have a good rapport with students, and I also expect my top-25, $50k/yr school to provide good professors. This in no way makes me feel like the University is doing something above and beyond it’s call (and therefore, going back to my first point, makes me feel no need to donate).

  35. we will be discussing this upon my arrival. be afraid.

  36. “I think” makes the most sound point I’ve read in all of these comments. At $50k a year our Georgetown experience should be “value-added”. I spent a year at a public college before transferring to GTown. Naturally I had to bite the bullet on a lot of things such as the less-than-stellar facilities and the glacial bureaucracy of the administration. But for the price I was paying those inconveniences made sense.

    At Georgetown I think it’s reasonable to expect a more personalized experience. I’m not implying the University should cater to our every need, maybe just a smile rather than a grimace or some small sign of genuine care.

    Like most posters, I will eventually donate to Georgetown because of the fantastic friendships and experiences I have nurtured during my time here. I’ll probably donate to a scholarship fund so that some deserving kid doesn’t have to pay exorbitantly to go to a great college.

    Final point: Georgetown’s endowment is a major hindrance on its ability to climb the rankings. Right now Georgetown is in an extremely enviable position. Just think about everything it has going for it: Location, academic programs that are either already highly respected (SFS, College) or quickly improving with new facilities (MSB, sciences), even a high-profile Basketball team (this is more important than you’d think). Other schools can’t touch Georgetown on most of these strengths. So why are we ranked so low?

    For U.S. News and World Report, at least, “Alumni giving” is a key criteria used to asses, of all things, academic quality. They figure that if you were satisfied, on the whole, with your academic experience you will donate back to your alma mater. So if Georgetown is the strong academic institution we all know it to be, the endowment should be higher. Sam and some other posters gave a few examples of why they won’t donate. Agree or disagree, the University should be paying attention.

  37. It’s not about reading the form, stupid. My favorite experience was when I lived in Copley. It was raining hard, and as we all know, Copley leaks. It was the first big rainstorm of the year and our RA made sure that everyone knew the number to call if your roof leaked so that facilities would actually come and have a look. Our roof started to leak, so we put a bucket under it and called facilities. Half an hour later, they showed up to have a look at the leak (two of them). The one looked up at the ceiling “It’s leaking,” he said. “Yep,” said the other “it’s leaking”. My roommate responded “Yes, so can you help us?”. “Well,” said the facilities guy, “it looks like you already got a bucket.” Then they left.

    The point isn’t any single one of these little incidents, it’s the pattern of contempt for or at least disinterest in the students. Having experience much the same treatment in high school, I wrote it off as “just the ways things go” until junior year when I studied abroad at Oxford. My college at Oxford had its problems, to be sure, but there was something you could do about them, and you felt like people actually cared about your concerns. The principal (president) had open office hours every week when anyone who wanted could come to see him and talk about their concerns of whatever nature. He had a montly townhall meeting where he would present to the students and then take questions. Some of those meetings got really, really ugly (think the tea party crowd at the health care townhalls). Students would heckle him. They would ask questions intended to trip him up, then seize joyfully on incorrect answers. At one meeting, a student called him “a filthy coward” and threw something (the issue at hand was bizarrely trivial and involved library fines). The principal, however, handled all of this with incredible grace. He listened. He responded rationally and calmly, and sometimes he made changes on the basis of what people said, but the most important thing is that he was available at least every month for that town hall and you could say whatever you wanted.

    At Oxford, they were also honest with us. The college disclosed to the students a detailed budget so that we could see exactly where all the money went. Good luck getting that information out of Georgetown. That let us become informed, and ask questions. It let students become an active part of the decision process, too, because we could look at expenses and say, this isn’t right. As a result, while I was there, the students pushed through a move to reduce spending on computer labs that no one used anymore and shift the money to reducing the cost of the meal plan. At Georgetown, that wouldn’t even be possible because the university outsources dining to Aramark, who have even less interest in student’s well-being than the administration. In short, at Oxford I saw another model. A model where the students had power, and a voice. I will be giving to my college at Oxford.

    If Georgetown wants to improve, the first step is to listen. DeGioia, O’Donnell, Olson, and Spiros Dimolitsas (the most important person at Georgetown you’ve never heard of) should have town hall meetings for the students at a minimum of once a semester for whatever concerns students have, not just in response to “diversity incidents”. It would take just a couple hours from them, but have great benefits for everyone. The university should also be more transparent with students, and it should take more time to listen to their concerns.

  38. You attended a Catholic University. OF COURSE there will be a paternalistic attitude here…

  39. Sam, Senior Week is week of fantastic events of trips, parties, and picnics. At most of which, the beer and whine is flowing copiously. And all of this is made available for FREE to YOU. If Georgetown were paternalistic, suffocating, and unappreciative of its students, which you imply it is, why would Georgetown bother to host senior week at all?

    As far as the giving aspect is concerned: That’s fine, don’t give your gift to the Center for Student Programs, or to any other office you find to be a hassle. What’s great about giving back is that you can specifically designate the beneficiary of your gift. How about supporting some of the fantastic student publications that are able to be funded thanks to the university? The Voice, perhaps?

    If you can’t be appreciative of all that Georgetown does for its students because you found a few seconds of bureaucratic red tape to be annoying, that truly is unfortunate for you. You will have to carry your negative and contemptuous attitude with you for the rest of your life, because red tape is unfortunately just about everywhere. I would advise you to just step back and enjoy the parties, celebrations, and joy these last couple of days at Georgetown. This place really has been kind to us these past four years, so now let’s be kind to it.

  40. wine*

    Must have been a Freudian slip on account of all of Sam’s complaining.

  41. I agree completely with Sam. I’m glad that dumb pledge is still there, just to remind people that “the man” at Georgetown pretty much sucks on all counts. It’s good to remind students that it’s easier to get blood from a stone than fix a shower in Kennedy by making them feel like an idiot, reciting a pledge.

    The advancement office should take note, because a lot of people don’t care enough to give money back to Georgetown when someone reminds of how poorly so many things are run. Fliers at senior week won’t change that, hiring competent people will.
    And I’m not a bitter young alum: I certainly appreciate my time at Georgetown and will happily send The Hoya a check every now and then, but it’ll never go through the advancement office.

  42. “If Georgetown were paternalistic, suffocating, and unappreciative of its students, which you imply it is, why would Georgetown bother to host senior week at all?”

    To impress parents/relatives, and to leave you with a god taste in your mouth as you leave forever, so you hopefully donate in the future. The end.

  43. Pingback: Vox Populi » Comments of the Week: The time we didn’t donate to the University

  44. bravo to this article, this is why i sometimes hate this schol

  45. Pingback: Vox Populi » Class of 2008 leads young alumni in University gifts

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