No different than summer camp memories, I suppose
Posted by aogMonday, 02 July 2007 at 14:28 TrackBack Ping URL

Reading about the demise of Antioch College is an excellent source for your daily requirement of schadenfruede. Basically, it’s tolerance for bizarre student antics created a negative feedback cycle that devastated enrollment.

But the subject of today’s post is different, triggered by this section —

Bard College President Leon Botstein (who in the 1970s was president of the seriously far-out and short-lived Franconia College) came down hard on what he sees as a failure of liberals to support their institutions.

“One of the tragedies of the progressive liberal movement,” Botstein said, “is that unlike at a conservative institution — such as Princeton or Dartmouth, where the alumni are deeply loyal and give it support and money — for liberals, higher education is not a strong enough cause. Their causes are social causes, and higher education is left for the conservatives to fund.”

This sort of thing has always been a great mystery to me. I can understand why conservatives might donate to the endowment of a particular college or university, in order to promote a specific style or ideologically oriented education of the next generation. What baffles me is why this would be related to the college the donor attended. It seems to be a wide spread phenomenon that people are (in my view) fanatically devoted for no apparent reason to their “alma mater”. It’s just another part of the service industry, delivering a service in exchange for cash. Why such loyalty to a college and not to, for example, a book store? Particularly since rarely, if ever, can you use the service again.

I suppose someone will bring up the point of using the service for your children, but that’s at least a decade or two later on, at which time the institution might have changed radically, and your own geographically situation is likely to be completely different. Evaluating the currently extant options at that time seems far more sensible to me.

Is there just some college shaped hole in my soul?

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Michael Herdegen Monday, 02 July 2007 at 15:00

No different than summer camp memories, I suppose

Exactly. Some people have really, really great college experiences, and whether or not they’d have had similar experiences without attending school, they attribute them to the locale.

So it’s basically nostalgia - which can be worth paying for. I have some favorite memories that are well-worn, and if they were centered around an institution which accepted donations, I might send a buck or two occasionally.

Bret Monday, 02 July 2007 at 15:47

No, it’s much more than basic nostalgia (to me). I want my alma mater to be well thought of in the future. That makes my resume worth more. That makes me worth more. That’s why I donate to that particular school. It’s totally self serving - an I’m proud of it!

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 02 July 2007 at 15:58

I must have gone to the wrong university (UIUC) because it’s never done a thing for my resume despite being in the top 3 in my field (Computer Science) for the USA.

On the other hand, I’ve never used a resume to get a job either, so I might not be the best example.

cjm Monday, 02 July 2007 at 16:09

people just like to remember when they were in college, a nostalgia thing.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 02 July 2007 at 16:36

It’s much more than that. I remember where I was born, but I don’t have T-shirts with the town name on it, or stickers on my car, or have it as part of my identity.

Bret Monday, 02 July 2007 at 17:08

Perhaps UIUC should do some more marketing of itself, then you might feel different. Before your post, I wasn’t aware that UIUC was a top-rated computer science school and I’m in that field as well. I assume UI is a publicly supported University system?

Andrea Harris Monday, 02 July 2007 at 20:23

Forget that, what about the bizarre reverence/revulsion we have about our high schools? I recognize that the high school years are traumatic for many, but why dwell on them, why go back to the high school reunion? I barely remember my high school years (and not because I’m all that old) and it never occurred to me to go to any of my class’s reunions, which I am sure they had — my high school was that kind of place, as I recall.

I spent the next (mumble) years going on and off the community college in Miami, then in Orlando, finally getting my associates degree, started work on my BA at UCF and then got bored with the whole idea. School spirit never entered into it. I suppose it’s a kind of tribal thing; Florida has such a transient outlook even the natives don’t really set down roots.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 02 July 2007 at 20:53

Ouch! I went to my high school reunions.

Why? My very best friends are still mostly people I knew in high school — we were a very tight knit group. These das we’re scattered across the globe and it’s a good excuse to get together. Also, SWIPIAW went to the same high school, so many of those friends are her friends or older siblings there of. Perhaps I never bonded with my college because I had formed my life long assocations before then.

On the other hand, I remember my high school fondly, with nostalgia, because those were good times — very good times (better than college), and I knew then I would never know the like of them again. But it would never occur to me (or any of my friends from there) to fetishize it the way so many do their college, like decorating their house in school colors, or subscribing to alumni letters, etc. The good part of the high school were crew I hung out with, not the school itself.

Michael Herdegen Tuesday, 03 July 2007 at 07:25

But there are colleges and universities that truly do offer unique or at least difficult-to-match experiences, so I understand some of that “fetishization” - it’s like being a principal character on a long-running TV show or movie series, or maybe being intimately involved in some intense event, like 9/11. It becomes part of who you are.

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