A serious question

A program at my university is having a fundraiser so their building can be finished. It involves a $50 dinner ticket, and buying drinks at the bar, and participating in a silent auction.

No, I do not have the money; yes, I have other priorities, anyway; no, I am not comfortable being asked to make this kind of contribution to the university.

On the other hand: I already have thousands sitting on cards, to cover for conferences, professional dues, and books, that I will be teaching summer school and grading the AP exam to pay off. Some might say: what is another $65 or so in these circumstances, when the person in charge is serving as a reference for you, when this is a tax deduction, and when it could mean a chance to hobnob with some of the right people?

I still say no; if I were to donate $65 somewhere I would send it to, say, the United Negro College Fund. Yet I feel coerced and cornered. How would this make you feel?





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12 responses to “A serious question

  1. I would just say no. $65 is $65, what you spend your money on is up to you, the state of your finances is none of anyone else’s business (and you need make no excuses, just say no), and anyone who is cornering you and nagging you about participating in this needs to go off and bother someone else. Or else buy you a ticket with their own money if they’re so hot on you being there. What is it with this place where everyone is all up in everyone else’s business? Who gives a $hit about hobnobbing? And you should never have to pay for a reference—if that’s even on the table, then it’s really past time to be moving on.

    • Z

      Ah, DEH, you have never worked in a SLAC or in a regional! Or with southerners, maybe … or in Spanish. There is all sorts of stuff about showing loyalty, showing support. Not to go to something can mean you have declared war upon it, and there can be reprisals.

      It is true about the busybody-ness, though — it’s very irritating and destructive.

      • Two of the people I like best at Large Regional U are in Spanish, so I suspect it’s SLAC/southerners. Working in the sort of culture you’ve been describing for the last several years would kill me.

  2. Z

    Ah, but have you worked with franquistas, PP members, family members of the Estrada Cabrera family and similar, etc.? Opus Dei (although these are somewhat better, actually)?

    It is also to be noted that this is a right-wing nationalist university, and I am in the central department for that. There is a real reason I call it Vichy State.

    Now that I am on the market and do not care, I kind of like the place, though, and have it in better perspective. 😉

  3. Rozasharn

    My thoughts would be: how possible is it to avoid going? Have they held this fundraiser annually, or events like this before? Did you try not going, or do you know people who have not gone? What happened as a result?

    You are aware of the reasons why you don’t want to go, and why it would drain your resources. The part you are worried about is the possibility of a backlash that would drain your resources also. Knowledge would help make the path clear.

    • Z

      Hi Rozasharn! These *particular* events are new. I think the backlash possibility is low, actually, and the payoff possibilities are chancy. Bottom line: to be nice (the organizer is a friend and needs support), I’d go, but it would have to be cheaper. It’s just so high — it costs a lot to go out to dinner now anyway, yes, but I would rather go by choice.

  4. I really really hate it when they do that. This is absolutely wrong and just offensive. This is coercion of the lowest order. But refusing might end up being more expensive potentially than agreeing. I don’t have any advice here because it’s easy to give advice when another person will have to take the consequences. All I can say is that you are right in being angry about this.

  5. j.

    i was a visitor once, asked but in no way expected (they said, due to my visitor status) to contribute matching funds to a (private-)college-wide funding drive, with the idea (from the consultants running the thing) that a certain percentage of faculty support was effective at getting so-and-so much more support from wealthy donors, community members, etc.

    there has long been a similar, regular drive at my alma mater (public).

    my belief is, under no circumstances should an employer ever even ask you to donate funds to anything, regardless of how attached you are to it. it’s like volunteering to take a one-time pay cut! and you should never ever do it. unless you are, say, a senior faculty member who has gotten fat off your mutually beneficial long years of service and wishes to pay some of that back for the sake of education.

    (is not being a [low-paid] teacher already enough of a service?! get someone else who’s not party to the institution already to do it, sheesh.)

  6. Pingback: Monday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion | Clarissa's Blog

  7. Agree with the above: put the $65 toward your cards and don’t go, unless it’s a program that you’re somehow invested in.

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