Like every other night for the past few weeks my phone rang at about 9:45 PM. It was the same number again. For years the number had intermittently shown up on my caller ID, and I recalled that it was for some sort of Rutgers survey. At this point I just wanted the annoying late-night calls to stop, so I decided to pick up the phone.
I had remembered correctly. It was a survey about my experience at Rutgers. Most of the questions were pretty standard (i.e. “What did you like best about Rutgers?”, “Did you participate in any activities?”), but I did not realize their more sinister purpose until a few minutes later.
I thought the interview was all-but-finished when the young woman on the other end of the line launched into the scripted marketing spiel. Wouldn’t I like to give something back to Rutgers? I was told I could easily start at the $200 level and contribute funds directly to any department I wanted.
I stifled my anger and said that no, I was not interested in making a donation. In the privacy of my own mind, though, I was furious. I had already given tens of thousands of dollars to Rutgers in the form of tuition, fees, and parking tickets. Given that I did not get the education I wanted for the large sums of money I paid I was not about to fork over more of my hard-earned cash to an institution that treated me as little more than a source of funding.
The woman on the other end of the line was undeterred. If I was uncomfortable starting at the basic $200 level, she said, then maybe they could work out some other kind of payment plan. I stopped her in the middle of this speech and ended the call. All the preceding questions had been meant to stir up warm, fuzzy feelings about my experience at Rutgers so that I would open up my wallet to the university. Unfortunately for the RU telemarketing squad my experience at Rutgers has been overwhelmingly bad, and I certainly was not about to donate money to a school that thinks it is a good idea to take out $102,000,000 in loans to expand a football stadium while they raise tuition and cut back on academic programs.