It’s all to common with a liberal arts education: my degree has about as much economic application as horseshoeing on a spaceship. I’m reminded of this monthly, when I write those checks to loan companies. There’s an extra reminder now. The Alma Mater, Azusa Pacific, has hired students to call me up. Yes, we all know why.
With some exaggeration, it is easy to feel like this when you get calls from a private educational institution.
Every single alum has at least one reason not to donate. Additionally, there is a second. Specifically, many alums are disgusted about the public, and dramatic issue regarding Adam (formally Heather) Ackley the transgender theology PhD who was dismissed (as graciously as possible?) from APU. Whatever an outsider’s perception of this event, many from the APU community are not in agreement with this dismissal. A number of students on campus have come out with the supportive slogan “we stand with Adam.” They may speak for others; students and alum at APU are perhaps more free to speak their minds about human sexuality and Christianity than the people on the campus payroll. While equally LBGT supportive alums appreciate this, we still know our alma mater has embarrassed itself by doing something we find morally objectionable. All of this leaves us with a feeling of disgust, frustration, irritation. No matter how sweet the other person sounds on those cold calls, these feelings aren’t going to go away.
I suggest that these feelings are reasons for alums to donate, rather than an additional reason to shun our alma mater’s inconvenient phone calls.
First, APU’s dismissal of Adam Ackley is horrible mark, but it does not invalidate everything else the school does well. I regret that I will not be able to attend APU’s celebrate Christmas choral and musical performances this year. A few weeks ago, several other alums and held a fantastic night of singing, dancing, and improvised comedy. These nights could never have happened without our APU connection. There are more altruistic causes too. One of my former classmates is finishing up Psy D program with the express purpose to help women pro bono. Another friend has worked for a children’s non-profit for years.
Second, I think it behooves recent alum (and by that I mean anyone who is between 24-30ish) to consider why APU bit the bullet and dismissed a transgender individual. It can be only in part because of “Christian Values.” Whether we like it or not, the older generation has the deep pockets. These people make up the donation base. They’re also more conservative on issues of gender and sexuality. Do other APU hold these views that strongly? I have a hard time believing that any the intellectuals at the campus actually wanted to see their colleague go. Enough students on campus have shown support for Adam. As blunt as it is, a transgender professor is probably more offensive to donors than to students or scholars.
I think this is where a humble, and slightly more than symbolic, contributions from recent alums come in. The silver lining of entire Ackley fiasco is that the university (and anyone connected with it) has to confront this issue of gender identity and Christianity. We all already know what the result will be in twenty years. Transgender individuals will become more and more accepted. Eventually too the broader Christian community will wonder why we thought that dismissing a transgender individual made any kind of sense. Most of the younger than 30 Christians I know aren’t particularly bothered by LGBT acceptance. Even those who disagree with things like gay marriage aren’t the type who are pro-actively opposing it. Eventually, the views of the younger generation will supplant the views of the older.
Therefore, I’d like to put a little money to demonstrate this to University. I want APU to know that I support my Alma Mater. I want them to know that I believe in its mission and goals. I want them to know that my time at APU is still a time I remember well.
Furthermore, I want them to know that I’m sympathetic to LGBT causes. I believe that “Christian Values” do not demand exclusion on this basis. Finally, at some point in the future, I want APU to make decisions on LGBT based on purely on conscience, not on donation ledgers. The only way APU can be freed from the fear of offending a donation base, is if enough of their donation base is demonstrably supportive of LGBT issues.
It might be a drop in the bucket, but I like to show support with my wallet.