Grinnell and Giving
I know I’ve not been blogging much lately. I’m working on that, but until I get to the business and security content that so many of you come here for, I have to share this. It’s about my alma mater, Grinnell College.
When I set foot on Grinnell’s campus, it felt like home. My four years there were focused on education. Not necessarily the academics, but education nonetheless. While I did learn a lot about Physics and Art, I learned a lot more about friendship, adversity, pain, love, and how to get along with others. It was where I stopped being a child and started on the path towards being an adult. It was a time of transformation and metamorphosis. Of all the times in my life, it is the one I point to when I need to say “This is when I really started to be me.”
Since that time, I have worked a few jobs and have learned a lot about adult life and the working world. I’ve begun to look upon Grinnell with new eyes.
Since graduation, I have been irritated when I get calls and letters from Grinnell asking for money. This is not because I think poorly of my time at Grinnell, quite the contrary. It is because the administration of Grinnell seems to have been working very hard to ensure that the experiences that I had there could not be repeated in the future. I’ve heard about the exorbitant salary for the college president, continuously skyrocketing tuition, and the erection of larger and larger buildings. It appears to me that the college is attempting to grow and, through growth, become something other than what it was to me: a small, incredibly liberal arts college where students are free to experiment, make mistakes, and become adults.
My fear is the Grinnell has gotten lost in the pursuit of college rankings and the cost of the college experience. As such, I cannot justify giving any of my money to the college.
Today, I heard about Dominican University. It’s similar in size to Grinnell. It’s a small Catholic university located in Northern Illinois. I don’t know their politics or academic record. However, I do know something about their values. Detailed in a press release, they are addressing the current economic situation as follows:
1) To encourage students staying in school, all seniors graduating in January and May 2009 are granted a tuition reduction towards Masters-level tuition.
2) They are expanding the number of on-campus student jobs.
3) They are raising the entry-level wage for student jobs.
4) They are offering free classes in resume writing, interviewing, and finance management to all alumni that need them.
5) They are offering scholarships to parents of current students who are between jobs and wish to gain education.
I am astonished that the little school about which I knew almost nothing prior to today is taking such an active role in promoting education in society. I am impressed at their creativity and attention to their values. I am deeply deeply ashamed that my own school is not leading the effort.
So, what am I going to do about it?
I am not skilled in political theory or sociology. I do not have an incredibly deep understanding of economics or history. Grinnell did, however, teach me about systems and to be a moderately skilled writer. I know about physical, biological, technological and business systems. I know that the lifeblood to an institution like Grinnell is money and that the lifeblood to a college student is the assurance that they can stay at Grinnell to complete their education. I know that a great many people that attended Grinnell have skills that vastly exceed mine in their own areas of expertise.
Therefore, I am going to put my money where my mouth is. I challenge Grinnell to meet Dominican University and lead that way, proving that education and raising responsible adults still wins out over political games and attracting high-profile donors. I am setting aside $400. It’s money that I had earmarked for something else, and not having it will hurt. I think that this is very important, however, so I’m going to do it. I give Grinnell four challenges to meet by February 1.
1) Either discount tuition for the Senior year (to keep them in school) or institute a tuition freeze for all current students (i.e., no tuition hikes for current students).
2) Boost the number of on-campus student jobs by at least 30.
3) Raise the entry-level wage for student jobs by at least $1.00/hr
4) Offer free classes to alumni on getting a new job, covering interview, and resume techniques. Ideally, these classes will be available online so that non-local alumni can attend them.
For each point that the college can meet, I will give the college $100. For all that haven’t been met by February 1, I will give $100 to Dominican University. I am not Catholic and suspect that I would disagree with their politics, but I have to support these particular values. If my alma mater won’t adopt them, I’ll support the school that will.
Similarly, I challenge my fellow classmates to join me. Work within your own areas of expertise to spread the word. Come up with other ways that the college can help the students, not just the rankings. Put up what money you can afford so that Grinnell can see we’re serious. Either challenge Grinnell directly or donate with an earmark towards “reducing the economic burden on current students”. Post this or an abbreviated rewrite (I do tend to go on) on your blogs/facebooks/myspace/livejournals/etc. I may not be skilled in “getting the word out,” but I know that some of you are fantastic at that.
Do what you can
Help us help the next generation.
Grinnell Class of 1999