During my graduation ceremony last week filled with anxious graduates, picture-taking, and wonderful speakers — Bill Cosby being one of them — I received my bachelor of the arts degree in journalism with a focus in magazines from Temple University.
This being the 126th Commencement ceremony, it was also the largest graduating class Temple has ever had with 9,000 students turning into alumni and officially becoming “Temple Made.”
Disclaimer: I am proud of my degree, not only for the hard work that I put into it but for the institution that it comes from. I am proud to say that I am Temple made and to permanently belong to an incredible network of alum that achieve and help each other achieve great things all over the globe.
That being said, about a week before I actually attended the graduation ceremony I received a phone call from the university which went something like this:
“Hello, congratulations on graduating, I am a sophomore at Temple and the only way that current students like myself can continue to do great things like you is through the continued support of our alum. Would you be willing to give a gift of $15?”
“Okay that’s fine, how about a smaller gift of only $10?”
“Okay, would you be willing to give up a cup of coffee this week and give a gift of only $5?”
This is the part in the conversation where a less patient version of me would have snapped. Instead I said, “Listen, I know you’re probably doing this as part of work study and I really do hope other students donate but seriously, I don’t even have $5 for myself or a cup of coffee in the first place. So, no.”
This was rude, and I personally, was slightly offended. No institution is blind to the fact that there are practically zero jobs available for someone who has just received their degree.
I understand the concept of giving back to where you came from. I understand that as a public university Temple has had a few rough years recently with threats from Gov. Corbett (R-Pa.) of cutting funding for Temple by $96 million, which was the case in 2011. I understand that without state and other forms of funding Temple would not be as great an institution as it is today.
I understand that there have been pay and hiring freezes in effect at Temple. I know that an economy which has brought unemployment as high as 23% to areas in the United States has made it financially hard for everyone.
I also understand that as an unemployed, 22-year-old recent college graduate I am a statistic, and one of many, who will be moving back in with their parents only to be forced into finding a retail job as the grace period from college loan debt shrinks day by day.
I get it. I do. If Temple wants to continue with greatness it will continue to need funding outside of state sources. I am also not saying that Temple is the only school guilty of this, because I am sure other schools and universities do the same to their graduates. But really, can’t a recent college grad catch a break?