Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I'm Drawing a Line in the Sand

By far the most stupid of all Boalt Hall traditions is the 3L class campaign. Every spring, the BHSA recruits your fellow classmates to engage in public shaming of individuals who choose not to donate to Boalt Hall prior to graduating (and no, the last minute $580 fee increase for next semester doesn't count). While this constant harassing is annoying in regular years, it's outright insulting that they are going through with it this year. The jacked up tuition is leaving our class in record debt, our post-graduation employment rate is at a record low, and we've been forced to sit through two years of tractor noise and trekking down to the Hearst annex for class. The responsible, sensitive, and human thing to do would be to cancel the campaign this year (/drama).

However, they are likely to go on with it, so I'm posting a brief list of reasons why I will not be participating. I recognize full-well what happens when you buck a Boalt tradition (one particular similar occurrence resulted in Patrick spurring Armen to shoot off an irrational flurry of emails that resulted in a promise by an alum to ruin our legal careers), but tradition can be a poison if it's bad tradition, as this campaign is.
  1. The 100% 3L donation target is used to solicit donations from alums. I imagine the email goes "our 3L class cares about Boalt so much that 100% of them donated to it, so you should too!" I would surprised if there were many alums that donate when the number reads "100" that wouldn't donate if the number read "80". Now, I anticipate that we'll get a few responses that seem to speak for the majority of alums, but I think most people will realize that between the increase in tuition ($5.5k/year) and the much lower job offer rates, current Boalties are the last people that BHSA and the administration should be hitting up for handouts. An esteemed alum tells me that of the (conservative) 2-3 dozen solicitation letters alums receive, only a few use the "100% 3L donation rate" line, mostly the ones by Dean Edley.

  2. The actual amount raised is minimal. Face it, we just can't afford anything substantial. Even with the quadruple matching by the "new alumni challenge", this amount of money will likely just cover the costs of the free food & beer handed out at the campaign kickoff party. On top of this, the individuals bugging you to donate emphasize that you can "even donate just $1". So again, the point of all this is for the "100% donation rate among 3Ls" alum solicitation letter.

  3. In the past, some individuals have said that donating as a 3L "helps establish a habit of donating in the future". This is utter bull. Aside from the 17 times (or whatever scientists claim nowadays) it takes to establish a habit, I personally don't plan on donating to Boalt until my likely donations exceed the extra $16k in tuition I've had to pay. Even then, I would have to prioritize my donations between my undergrad (Idaho, playing in the Humanitarian bowl!), my grad school (Davis), Boalt, and all the other charitable causes I'd like to contribute (for personal reasons I'm a big believer in the work of St. Jude's). I will literally be weighing sick children against my alma maters.

  4. Failing to donate doesn't mean you don't care about Boalt. I care very much for my classmates, I'm very thankful for the alums that have donated, and I hope the very best for future Boalt grads. I'm loyal to all these people, but that's where my loyalty ends. My Boalt experience has been very frustrating, with the lack of a courtyard after the first year, having to tolerate the "chairs" of the Hearst Annex, having protestors disrupt class twice a week, the sheer amount of noise from construction, the lack of student offices for a semester, the lack of janitors and cleaning crew to actually empty the garbages once in a while... Tuition increases have been discussed ad nauseum here and elsewhere, so I won't get into that, other than to say it is also frustrating that the ceilings on borrowing federal dollars haven't been bumped to match, unless you want to take Grad "grab your ankles" PLUS loans.

  5. The more someone bugs me about something, the less likely I am to do it. Am I the only one? Maybe it's the Irish blood in me, but it seems that the tactic of bugging someone to do something they don't want to do will only have a perverse effect on whether or not they do it. In the past, people have commented saying "im really glad they reminded me a couple times, since i would have forgot lol!". There is a fine line here, and it's crossed the attempt after someone says "No."
Having said all this, I'm also very pragmatic. If someone were to, say, buy a pitcher of beer to share with me, then I would let them donate $1 in my name. But for the sake of decency, if others don't want to contribute (more likely this year than ever), don't burn bridges or destroy friendships.

3L campaign email announcement included after the jump.

35 Comments:

Blogger Toney said...

Dear Anthony,

Your official 2010 Graduating Class Campaign will kick off on February 1, just when you return for the spring semester. Please plan to attend a special celebration with FREE food, drink, dancing, and camaraderie at the Bancroft Hotel.

SAVE-the-DATE
Class of 2010 Campaign Kickoff Party
Thursday, January 28
7-10 pm
Bancroft Hotel

The Graduating Class Campaign offers a special opportunity for students to participate in the $125 million dollar Campaign for Boalt Hall. Your participation sends an important message to donors that your law school deserves their support. The Class Campaign's goal is to reach 100% participation among all graduating 3L, LLM, and JSD students.

RSVP now for a great party by emailing rsvp@law.berkeley.edu or calling 510.643.6673. We'll be back in touch when classes resume. Until then, good luck with finals and have a wonderful holiday!

Best regards,

Andrew Kaufteil
Director of Annual Giving
Boalt Hall Alumni Center

PS: Gifts of up to $1000 from graduating students will be quadrupled due to the New Alumni Challenge match. Please consider making your campaign gift now by visiting give.law.berkeley.edu.

12/08/2009 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand? You're going to "literally" put children on one side of a scale and put your actual school on the other?

Isn't that just going to result in "literally" catapulting children across the bay?

12/08/2009 2:20 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

All three schools. The children may end up near Hawaii.

12/08/2009 2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, when was the last time a 3L class actually had 100% participation? 2009 was 84%. Point being, I share your doubt that 100% has some magical affect on alumni.

Second, I also like to consider "charitable value," or impact per dollar donated. For any dollar I consider giving to Boalt, I can think of a few other groups that would benefit more.

That said, from a purely selfish perspective, rankings are still based in part on alumni giving, right?

12/08/2009 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just a technical question here from someone new to/ignorant about loans, but if you're subsidizing your entire existence from student loans, which require you to affirm that the money will only ever be used for purposes relating to your education or something like that, are you even allowed to make donations? i suppose there's a strong argument that charitable donations to your school are for your educational purposes ... but still, it doesn't quite seem to fit. someone correct me?

12/08/2009 2:35 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12/08/2009 2:36 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

I don't believe so: http://www.usnews.com/articles/education/best-law-schools/2009/04/22/law-school-rankings-methodology.html

Having said that, these methodoligies change all the time. It is interesting that bar passage rate is only 2% of ranking consideration.

12/08/2009 2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought that, at least in the past, US News rankings incorporated alumni giving. That said, I think that statistic is total amount donated, not percentages, making the $1 token gifts most of the class makes moot.

This is going to herken back to past posts, but I think everyone should donate; as an alum who donated, I think it is a nice way to thank a school that gave us a top notch education. All the bitching and moaning about the fees going up is getting ridiculous. Boalt gave us all a lot during our 3 years there; if it helps the school, even a little, to be able to say 100% alumni contribution, it is quite easy to sack up and give 100 pennies. I was disappointed in my classmates last year who did not give. Get over yourself; this is about something bigger than any of us.

12/08/2009 2:55 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Don't worry, everyone. Toney will donate to the 3L Class Campaign, because if he doesn't, I will spend my summer sabotaging his highly competitive fantasy baseball league, which I know is worth more than a dollar and a line in the sand to him.

12/08/2009 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ninnies and Bullshit. Lighten up!

12/08/2009 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cut the "pragmatic" vacuity. If there's an overused word of late, that's a strong candidate. There is something to be said for the "even donate just $1" argument. Organizations with real money evidently do pay attention to levels of alumni participation, but aren't so concerned about calculating per capita rates. If that's the case, your dollar is worth potentially much more. How's that for pragmatic?

12/08/2009 4:14 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

Not as pragmatic at my pragmatic beer offer pragmatic.

12/08/2009 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Toney,

To be honest, you've been a whiny ass bitch for the past three years on these pages. Nobody here who has ever read one of your posts or comments is at all surprised that you're going to make some "principled" stand here and cheap out on the couple bucks for the class campaign just so that you can have something else to whine about. How convenient for you that for once there's a program that will actually lead to more attention directed at you the more you contribute nothing other than your incessant whining about how your top legal education cost you a couple extra thousand dollars. How put upon you are being in a position that thousands of 3Ls at other schools would kill to be blessed to be in.

So take your $1 and shove it. Just shut up about it for all we're concerned.

12/08/2009 4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:49 makes a good point. N&B has gotten VERY whiney recently. There used to be a bunch of interesting posts up discussing legal and/or political issues. But if you look back over the past few posts it's mostly complaining: the class campaign is annoying and i'm not giving; shut up you make too much noise in the library; the fee hikes suck; dean edley sucks; the guy who proposed a no confidence vote on edley sucks; the protestors suck; the economy sucks and we don't have jobs. Hmmmm

12/08/2009 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree completely with 4:49 pm. How convenient for one's principled stand to coincide with one's selfish interests. I'm annoyed our adcomm wasn't able to filter out this whiny, entitled jackass.

12/08/2009 5:16 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

4:49, a couple quick things to note: my first post was Sept. 3, 2008, so you've only had to put up with my whiny bitch ass for 16 months on "these pages".

Also, in the last year, I've posted about (in reverse chronological order):
1. the Hitler youtube video
2. playing poker against a partner in your law firm
3. getting ideas of how people are paying for school
4. the banning of the college democrat student group at liberty university
5. the correlation between religion and support for torture
6. law reviews going digital
7. a haiku for baseball season's opening day
8. an April's fools rickroll
9. an article showing torture foiled no terrorist plots
10. an XKCD re: logical reasoning
11. a solicitation for a fantasy baseball player
12. the evolution of English
13. a musing re: how it seemed the tractors were just moving dirt around all day
14. a thread with great time killer websites
15. the starcraft course offered at berkeley (which used to be the #7 google search result for "zerg rush"... it has since been bumped to #29)
16. more on the intersection between logical error & politics
17. noting how Boalt has gotten lucky with visiting professors
18. the slap-chop
19. the guy who wrote a sci-fi story instead of taking his final
20. being done with finals, and
21. the Torts shuffle.

None of this seems to me to particularly ranty or whiny. I think early on I wrote a few articles bitching about the lack of credit cards in Zeb, and AirBears' unreliability.

Also, there is no principled stand here, other than to say that this is a stupid tradition that shouldn't rely on public shame and harassment to succeed. I don't see where my self-interests are, unless you are referring to the $1 I'll save, but even I'm not that cheap.

12/08/2009 6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I kinda feel like this post shows up every year on N&B, at about this time. Wash, rinse, repeat.

12/08/2009 7:04 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Most students at Boalt could have gone to a variety of top law schools. Most other top schools have far better facilities and, these days, may even be cheaper or at least comparably expensive. That said, we've made our choice. Why not suck it up and make Boalt the best we can? The better the school looks, the better we all look.

12/08/2009 7:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

12/08/2009 2:55 PM: "I think it is a nice way to thank a school that gave us a top notch education"

Give me a freaking break. I paid a lot for that education (including tax dollars). Are you envisioning a tip-like scenario where I should be giving them an extra 20% on top of tuition because they were flirty and didn't charge me for dessert?

12/08/2009 7:46 PM  
Blogger McWho said...

Believe it or not, a school only remains competitive if it gets donations. So recognize that the fundraisers are doing their job to maintain YOUR school's reputation.

Why is that symbolic dollar so hard for you to give?

12/08/2009 8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For personal reasons, I do not contribute any money to any organizations other than my church.

I would really appreciate it if people would refrain from harassing me when I politely decline to donate.

You may have your reasons for wanting to donate; I have my reasons for not donating.

Can we all respect that?

12/08/2009 9:18 PM  
Anonymous '93 Alum said...

I receive separate requests for donations from UCLA, its graduate school, its Depts. of Chemistry and Engineering, Sonoma State, UC Davis and UCSF, UCBerkeley, Boalt, and in addition, the schools my children attended. That's eleven separate entities expecting donations. Can anyone reasonably expect one person to make anything more than a token donation to that many beggars? I mean, solicitors. The whole thing is out of hand.

12/08/2009 9:32 PM  
Anonymous David Abella said...

Dear Nuts and Boalts Readers,

Aside from thinking about whether or not you want to give a gift to Boalt as a part of the Class Campaign, we should also consider what a "Class Campaign" actually means to us as a community. As Co-Chairs of this year's campaign, here is the vision we would like to share with you. (We sent this out earlier in the semester.)

Dear Class of 2010,

We, David Abella and Dyanna Quizon, are excited to serve as your Class of 2010 Co-Presidents. We want to do everything we can to make our last year of law school a memorable one.

As you may know, the Class Presidents are responsible for coordinating the annual Class Campaign. This year, our vision is to redefine what a “Class Campaign” is, and what it means to the graduating class. In short, we think this should mean more than just providing a monetary gift to the law school.

We both believe strongly that every lawyer as both a professional and moral obligation to uplift the communities they serve. In that spirit, we hope that the Class will come together and donate their time, energy, and legal skills to helping communities in need.

We propose that every member of the Class participate in a Community Service event during the month of January 2010.
We realize that many of you already contribute significant time towards community service. Consequently, we would like to recognize any work you do during the month of January 2010 as a part of this campaign.

Additionally, we will work to coordinate efforts of student mods, student organizations, student journals, and any other individual or entity that wants to contribute to this endeavor.

We will organize at least one community service event for the class toparticipate in, but hope that many of you will propose and organize projects that will contribute to this endeavor.

You can start today by sending your community serve project ideas to boaltclassof2010@gmail.com

We call on you, our fellow classmates, to take up this call to give something to the greater community on behalf of Boalt Hall. Think of how powerful a statement we could make by declaring: “100% of the 3L Class dedicated time to helping communities in need for a total of 270+ hours of volunteer time.”

If we are to truly be a law school that is committed to serving the public interest, we must not rest on our laurels as a public law school with a great tradition of commitment to serving the public interest—it is our responsibility to create new traditions that will raise the bar.

Truly,
David Abella & Dyanna Quizon
3L Class Presidents, Boalt Hall Student Association

12/08/2009 11:01 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

h/t to David & Dyanna... this is the perfect example of what the class campaign should look like. I would be more than happy to donate time for community service, and will encourage (though probably not harass) others to do the same.

12/08/2009 11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a thread on the murder of one of our own? :(

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/12/prominent-attorney-fatally-shot-on-lawn-of-rolling-hills-estate-home.html

12/08/2009 11:45 PM  
Anonymous '07 Alum said...

The tactics used in the money push is an embarrassment to our class. It bothered the hell out of me when I was there, and I am much less likely to donate anytime in the near future.

Here's the thing. Us alums all know that 3Ls are allowed to donate trivial amounts, so getting a 100% rate isn't that convincing. Time would be much better spent just raising an amount of money and say it is a gift from the entire 3L class (or even 100% of the 3L class). And if you are serious about raising money, then why the hell would you hold an event at the Bancroft hotel (which costs several thousand to reserve).

12/09/2009 9:10 AM  
Anonymous chaparral ben said...

how spoiled can you get? berkeley students enjoy a significantly subsidized education at a top rated school that will be a huge asset for the rest of their lives--and yet take umbrage at being asked to make a modest contribution. shame on the malcontents.

12/09/2009 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of us have other reasons for not wanting to contribute.

Assuming that we are doing it just because we are cheap is offensive.

Please have respect for the views of others.

12/09/2009 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Some of us have other reasons for not wanting to contribute."

What are those reasons? I don't have a horse in this race, I'm just curious.

12/09/2009 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And who assumes that you're cheap? People have been arguing that you're selfish and petty, but I see no contentions that you're cheap.

12/09/2009 4:49 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

4:49 - I said that in trying to determine what my self-interests were (see 5:16). If not for the $$'s, I don't see what else is conveniently intersecting with my "principled stand".

I would practice up on those reading comprehension questions.

12/09/2009 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone already said that they have religious reasons for not donating.

12/09/2009 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know that they said it was religious reasons, just that for personal reasons they only give to their church.

12/10/2009 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Toney--I used to work for St. Jude's. They waste hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Think First Class airfare, 5-star hotels, etc.)

At least we know how Dean Edley will use the money...

12/11/2009 11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this post is an overreaction. it's Boalt's job to ask you (repeatedly) to donate to the school. I'm glad they do it! otherwise chairs would still break in all the classrooms (instead of just in 122 and 121). if you don't want to donate then don't. they certainly aren't "harassing" you. get over it.

1/18/2010 7:40 PM  

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