Tufts University's "Take An Undergrad For Coffee" Appeal
On Tuesday, I received a letter from Lawrence Bacow, president of my alma mater, Tufts University. He asked me to become a participant in the school's Student Ambassador Program - well, me and 93,000 other alumni, but I'm still honored and humbled by the offer.
According to the letter, "Our graduates provide valuable models for Tufts' current students and faculty, who look to them for guidance and inspiration." How do they know I can guide and inspire? Are they tailing me? I thought I saw some guy duck into an alley when I turned around suddenly the other day. He could have some incriminating shots of me spilling mustard on myself at the deli - there's some fine inspiration for the students.
I wish I had known about this sooner; I would have dressed better and shaved more often.
The letter goes on to say, "The Student Ambassador Program connects some of the university's most thoughtful and engaged students with graduates who can share unique perspectives on Tufts." I do recall some unique perspectives from my college days. There's the view of the third-floor bathroom ceiling in Carmichael Hall that I experienced while sprawled on the floor from too much cheap bourbon. And up on the library roof, there was that spectacular scene of Boston at night as it was being stomped into rubble by a giant Richard Nixon (1969 was a bad year for lefties but a great year for acid.)
"In the next few weeks a student ambassador will contact you with an invitation to meet for an hour to hear your thoughts on Tufts...The conversations this program fosters will help us learn how we can best support our alumni on their lifelong professional and personal journeys." Regular cash stipends would be nice, or maybe they could just cover my cable bill.
I think I'll accept the invitation when my student ambassador calls. It might prove useful for him or her to hear about my time on the Medford Campus, and I'm all for the university being more responsive to the needs of its graduates.
I'll start off by imparting all the life lessons I learned at Tufts to my young colleague:
• Don't take girls to Paul Newman or Warren Beatty movies.
• If you mislabel the page numbers in the middle of a ten-page paper, it becomes a fifteen-page paper and professors are none the wiser.
• Dark beer is the perfect complement to a Reuben Sandwich.
• Theater majors are easy.
• A fifteen-page paper becomes a twenty-page paper if you gradually expand the margins and triple-space around quotations.
• Mutton chops are seldom a good look.
• "Adult Entertainment" has nothing to do with age or maturity.
• You can make a pipe out of anything.
• Choose some old disgruntled professor who's being forced into retirement to be your advisor. He'll sign your degree sheet without looking too closely.
• Don't drink cheap bourbon.
For the most part, these precepts hold up well today. It's true that Paul Newman is dead and thus not the box office draw he once was, and Warren Beatty now looks like the villains he played against in Dick Tracy, but you can swap in some new pretty boy and the rule still applies.
When we get around to discussing ways the university might better prepare its graduates for the real world, I'll make a suggestion. No student should be granted a degree of any kind without first becoming a licensed plumber or electrician. Drains will always clog and light fixtures will always short out, but your comprehensive knowledge of Melville won't fix either. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the pipe wrench clobbers them both.
As for improving alumni relations, having collected the equivalent of Latvia's GNP from us for four years, Tufts might show more personal interest in our wellbeing. I'm not asking for much - an occasional phone call or letter, a nice card around the holidays - just a sentimental little something that says, "I'm thinking about you beyond your capacity to fuel our endowment."
And the Student Ambassador Program is a step in the right direction. I have no doubt that it's an altruistic endeavor on the part of the school and not simply another sleazy ploy to bleed the last possible cent out of its former students and sharpen the scythe for the current crop. In our hour together, I'm sure my ambassador and I can cover all the issues raised by the president's letter in a lively give-and-take over lattes at Starbucks...provided, of course, that Bacow picks up the tab.