By Allison Tinsey
On Monday afternoon, I drove over to the Field House to grab some food and my share of Bell’s Oberon provided for the Class of 2014 at the “Orange and Black Give Back” senior giving campaign kick-off. Many colleges and universities host senior fundraisers and those of us getting ready to graduate should expect them. While I fully intend to give and encourage my fellow seniors to consider it as well, I cannot help but wonder if I had not checked the box marked “faculty excellence,” would my $20.14 be put toward buying more food and drinks for other advancement events?
It is not just about senior fundraising, though; it’s about the incentive culture that has developed here at K. So why did I go to the fundraising event? I could have donated online just as easily. It is simple; I got two free Oberons. So why does anyone go to events? It seems that it is now the norm for food to be served at meetings, events, or even lunch with faculty members in order to boost attendance. The College presumably spends thousands of dollars on food and associated consumable products each year, directly contradicting their mission to be more sustainable and promote conscientious use of the Earth’s resources. On top of sustainability, it is important to remember that there are a whole host of social justice issues associated with food and food consumption as well.
I am thoroughly disconcerted by the amount of money that K spends on food as an incentive, instead of channeling funds toward more meaningful endeavors. Last quarter, my fellow philosophy majors and I made plans to attend the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters Conference, but we hit multiple snags while planning our trip in part because the Provost’s Office could not provide us with funding for a few hotel rooms. It is ridiculous that the College cannot fund events vital to our development as scholars, but it can spare the money to help persuade us to give back philanthropically before we even graduate, on top of the multiple events per week that provide food in order to encourage attendance.
If I am to give a meaningful gift and am encouraged to develop a lifelong spirit of giving, is it too much to ask that my contribution, future contributions, and my remaining tuition dollars not be wasted on the food that encourages me to give in the first place? Sure, the College needs to reevaluate its spending habits, but we must also strive for a cultural change where food isn’t needed as an incentive or reward for attendance.