Wednesday, February 15, 2012

an open letter to northwestern university.

To the Development Offices at Northwestern University:

As an English major (WCAS '06) and current teacher I've done my fair share of textual analysis. Even my 2nd graders know that meaning isn't always what it appears to be.  A writer's intent may be implicitly embedded within a text; a negative tone can be couched in excessively flowery verbiage. (I believe simpler folk call this style "passive aggressive"-- see image 1... Familiar, no?)
image 1, courtesy of Northwestern University

The trouble is, your implicit intent (above) was made glaringly explicit when you cleverly (but not really... see what I did there?)  titled your graphic "Young Alumni Faux Thank You to Nondonors." I assume you failed to realize the image's file name would in the gmail preview feature.

image 2, courtesy of gmail
Now, usually a big faux thank you is exactly  what I like to receive at the end of a ten hour day working in one of the nation's largest public school systems, but today it really rubbed me the wrong way. 

I am the first person in my family to earn a bachelor's degree.  I know that this was because of the incredible opportunity afforded to me through Northwestern grants. I know that current students depend on these grants as much as I did. I would love to contribute more to the university, but right now, I'm barely getting by on a salary that is not commensurate with my education level or hours worked. I have expressed this, both via email and phone in response to university solicitations.

I did not make the CHOICE to be a nondonor, but someone in your development offices made the choice to be rude and passive aggressive. When I do achieve financial stability (if that's not just a pipe dream for public school teachers), perhaps I'll direct my gifts to my graduate school, which has yet to pull a stunt like this.

With faux sincerity and real disappointment,

Nondonor & Alumna
Class of 2006

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