Travelocity in the City

Much as I enjoy an opportunity to travel, by the last day or two of any trip I am itching to get back home. And in my travels, I’ve never found a place I’d rather stay forever (except maybe Paris). The last week was a travel bonanza; a quick visit to my parents, leaving them with a freezer full of quart containers of split pea soup with ham (a winter lunch favorite); a work trip to New York City, and a weekend in rural (VERY rural!) Pennsylvania for Family Weekend at my daughter’s university.


This is the athletic center, home to an Olympic sized pool and a fitness center that would make any gym rat exceedingly jealous. There is also an indoor-track (those long, cold Pennsylvania winters must have had something do to with that) and basketball court, as well as other training facilities for the athletic teams.

The highlight was seeing my DD so settled and happy in her new home-away-from-home. She is intellectually engaged – hallelujah! – making friends, and getting involved in several campus activities. The weekend was so different from that of a month ago, when we moved her into her freshman dorm. Just one month later, she is the campus expert, showing us around the athletic center, taking us to brunch at one of her favorite campus spots, taking us to an a cappella concert one night and an on-campus ballet performance in the university’s gorgeous performing arts center the next night. We treated her to dinners off-campus – although the cafeteria food is surprisingly varied, fresh, and good.


Only one event that weekend left a bad taste in my mouth – and this one had nothing to do with the cafeteria food. On Saturday morning, we went to what was billed as a Parents’ Organization Leadership Breakfast, at which the university president delivered a short talk. And then – I felt so naïve not to have seen this coming! – the Parents’ Organization president got up to speak, and hit us up for donations to the university.


Let me remind you that everyone in that room was the parent of a freshman. So for the next four years, we will be writing checks that represent a substantial portion of our incomes to the university for the privilege of having our children spend what amounts to seven short months a year in the temple of learning. Yes, this is a private university – so you can guess what those tuition checks look like. So how rude and inappropriate was it for these people to request additional donations? I was first just taken aback, but once I’d had time to think about it I became, shall we say, incensed. To put it mildly. I know universities all over the country have been hit hard by the economic downturn, and that their endowments have taken a serious hit. But this was barely one month into our childrens’ first year of college!

Back to main

Comments welcome