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Alumni have duty to take care of the UA

By Jason Baran
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday December 2, 2002

In just a few short weeks ÷ less than three now ÷ about 1,500 Wildcats will file into McKale Center. Two hours later they will emerge anointed with all the rights and privileges ÷ not to mention confetti, silly string, foam and tortilla shrapnel ÷ of a university graduate. These new alumni will join the ranks of thousands past and thousands future that constitute the Arizona diaspora. With these rights and privileges comes a duty.

It isn't simply a matter of financial obligation or philanthropy. In the coming weeks, and again in the weeks before May's commencement, phone calls will be made to secure pledges for the class gift on behalf of each student's respective college. Last year, 2002 pennies were solicited from each graduating senior in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. This money goes to various activities, including scholarship development. It's a good way to make a gesture of commitment without huge financial resources.

Ideally, gifts from graduates wouldn't stop there. Annual contributions of any size could help improve UA's situation. Take for instance this year's December/May graduating class of roughly five thousand. If each were to give one hundred dollars ÷ say even as an average ÷ to the Alumni Association or directly to UA, that would be $500,000 per year. That's a lot of money and a lot of potential scholarships. Imagine if every class pitched in the same way, or ÷ dare it be said ÷ to a greater extent.

Here's the kicker: It's tax-deductible. That means lower taxes and positive contribution to legacy. After all, the colloquialism, or something like it insists, "dance with the one who brought you." Exactly. Numerous studies show that a degree or two on the wall makes a big difference in earnings. It seems reasonable to give a little back, especially when the outcome is known.

This is different than just paying taxes to support the UA. Recently, that has proven painfully unreliable. Granted, as a public institution, the UA relies on the Legislature for funding. That's fine, and won't and shouldn't change. That's where alumni support can help dampen the impact ÷ even if just slightly.

Speaking of the Legislature, if money isn't a viable or acceptable form of support, there is another way to do one's duty: advocacy. This needn't take much time or effort. Something as simple as a letter to a state legislator or congressman may be enough. Alumni can send letters or e-mails in support of UA to elected officials. Tell them to lay off the cuts or whatever the issue de jour may be. UA Advancement's Web site has links to government relations pages and the AdvoCats site has links for contacting legislators. Both are just the tip of the iceberg. The Legislature's site will point dutiful alumni in the same direction. One of the most important things any alumnus or alumna can do is make sure public officials think people are paying attention. One need not be a graduate to send a letter; current students can make just as much impact.

Additionally, there are other volunteer opportunities available around campus and throughout the world. UA Advancement has information on both opportunities and resources for efforts of Wildcats who so desire to exert a little effort ÷ or a lot. The list includes everything from gardening to osteoporosis prevention. Where there's a will, there's a way. The single most important way of dutifully representing one's Wildcat heritage is to simply live a responsible life. Every student carries the UA flag with him throughout life, be it to graduate school or on into some profession, or the Peace Corps. "The University of Arizona" is on every rˇsumˇ of every graduate from Geraldo Rivera to Senator Jon Kyl. The actions of every graduate reflect in some way ÷ however small ÷ on the UA. It's owed to one's self and the UA to act with integrity and responsibility throughout life.

Stewardship is the multifaceted duty of every Wildcat. Its execution is a matter of choice.


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