Hippo City

James Eric Prichard

Over reading period, as I was cleaning my room and bringing the number of times that such an event has happened up to the number of times that I have voted this term, I found a letter from the senior gift committee, asking for a handout. This letter was one among many that did not survive the cleaning spree.
I had previously anticipated giving money to Lawrence after graduation. I will probably have beaucoup bucks to spare after my rap career takes off, and my alma mater seemed to be a worthy cause. It gave me a pretty good deal on a very good education, and I would not mind returning the favor to future Lawrentians.
My sentiments have changed, however, over the past term. It may seem petty or obsessive, but I keep thinking about the way that the four Hiett residents are being treated. Their de facto suspension is still in place, and the administration still holds them at an arm’s length.
The businesslike approach that the school is taking disgusts me. Even if the school were to punish a student, they could still punish lovingly, but the affectionless handling of the situation shows a lack of concern for the students as individuals.
Lawrence is acting like schools such as George Washington University, where students have faced similar punishments for being suicidal. Lawrence appears to consider its students as liabilities first, and as people only later.
In a few months I will be something else to Lawrence: a potential donor. Why would I donate so that middle-class kids can go to school when there are charities that actually help the poor and starving? Evidently the school thinks that I have some sort of personal relationship with it, and I thought that I did. But then the school abandoned any personal relationship it had with the four students and began to treat them as adversaries.
The quickness with which the school was able to make such a move makes me doubt my own relationship with the school. I know that there are good people at Lawrence who care about me personally, but does the institution as a whole? And if it did, would that make a difference? The school would still be treating my friends and fellow students poorly, and I don’t feel like donating to an institution that has wronged my peers.
Generally, Lawrentians — like most American college students — do not act upon anything. We get pissed at groups like the Viking Conservatives and at different administrative offices, but we don’t do anything about our concerns. We don’t strike, picket, protest, or write letters. Maybe our concerns are not worth acting upon, but in any case, we do not act at all.
Despite being upset, I am still lazy and dislike acting. This time, though, I can actually make my point by not acting. Showing my disapproval is as easy as not giving any money after graduation.
If you can vote with your pocketbook, then being parsimonious can send an equally strong message. I might even let the Office of Development, reachable at alumni.giving@lawrence.edu, know exactly why I do not feel charitable.
The administration is guilty of wanting to eat its cake and have it too.
It wants to establish a superficially personal relationship with students so that when they graduate the school will have wallets to tap into.
At the same time, it wants to divorce itself from students when such action would serve its best interests.
Unfortunately, you can’t be both friendly and calculating, and Lawrence endangers future giving when it misunderstands this.