Dear Brandeis University,
Perhaps if you hadn’t raised tuition by nearly 40% over the 4 years that I spent at your institution, effectively nullifying the generous scholarship that you gave me when I started my freshman year (which was really the only way that your private school seemed even remotely affordable) I may have some money left over at the end of each month to donate to your capital campaign. But as it stands, I am incredibly deep in student loan debt that I will continue to pay for the next few decades and simply cannot afford it.
I understand that in order to maintain your high level of academic excellence and small class sizes you need to raise capital. But here are some alternative options:
-Invest in ANY career counseling services, your existing infrastructure is a joke, it doesn’t work and it hardly tries. If you helped students and alumni get jobs, maybe they’d be more inclined to donate some of their now elevated incomes. You pride yourselves on the statistics of how many of your graduates go on to get advanced degrees, but have you ever considered that is maybe because you do hardly anything to help them find jobs?
-Focus on strengthening your alumni network. Host alumni events that don’t cost hundreds of dollars. Create sub-networks of people with similar majors or who are now in similar fields, then they’d actually have something to talk about when they do show up to events other than how horrible the food was in that one cafeteria. This has to come from the university, not just from that one guy Matt who tries to get people in LA to get together at a bar sometimes. And you know, how about you give Matt some money so we at least don’t have to buy our own drinks while we stand around awkwardly.
-Recruit more international students and make them pay tuition out the ass. USC does it all the time and it’s hilarious, and it works.
-Stop hosting massive events on campus. Is seeing Jimmy Carter or Jason Mraz for free or cheap cool, sure. But maybe that could go into paying professors or maintaining facilities.
-Put time into your relationships with older donors that are not named Shapiro.
-Allocate more of your existing money to research so you can own patents on more than just Smart Balance.
-That group of 25,000 old Jewish ladies that you are so proud of that collect books for you? How about getting them to collect money for your endowment instead of just outdated media.
-Recruit some students who are good at things other than just academics, who want to talk to each other sometimes, who are social and outgoing, who want to plan parties and invite people to them, who don’t want to spend every friday night in temple and every saturday night in the library then crying in their room alone. Loosen up the rules so that there is an institutional focus on social activities. Recruit students who are diverse in interests, backgrounds, opinions and encourage them to get together. Put some focus on the mental health of your students. Make a community and make people feel excited to be a part of that community. As a friend once said, that place is filled with darkness, make it less so. Then people would think on you more fondly and would be more likely to donate.
I got an incredible education in you, and I value that immensely, but please stop trying to guilt me into giving you more money.
A satisfied former student