This Saturday, October 6, CMC alums from 2012 to 2006 will swarm campus in their business casual attire for the second annual Forum For the Future. Caitlin Drulis, the Assistant Director of Alumni and Parent Relations, explains that Forum for the Future “is an initiative designed to engage young alumni with the life and leadership of the College. The program provides members with an insider’s view of issues and topics facing the College, solicits their feedback, and seeks to engage them as leaders within the Alumni Association and CMC community.”
Over fifty members of the class of 2012 will be returning to take part in this event, but some have voiced concern over the cost to students, the lengthy application process, and the true motivations behind the event.
This year, unlike last year, alumni earning more than $50,000 a year receive no travel subsidy to attend. This policy applies to the most recent class as well. Maren Hotvedt ’12 observed, “The administration fails to realize for the class of 2012 that there is a substantial difference between having a salary of $50,000 per year or greater and actually having made $50,000 in the past year.”
When asked if she believed Forum for the Future was a fundraising event, Drulis responded with an unequivocal, “No.”
The alums, however, disagreed. “You’d have to be stupid not to think that tangentially it’s a fundraising event. ‘Engaged’ alumni are more likely to give to the college. More blatantly, the administration even told us that our travel expenses could be considered an ‘in-kind gift to the college,'” asserted Dave Meyer ’12.
Hotvedt agreed that the conference had intentions to fundraise but did not see it as a problem. “I donate to CMC because I loved CMC and want to ensure that everyone who attends in the future has the same positive experience,” she said.
Adding to the disagreement over the true intentions of Forum for the Future and the cost to individual students was the extensive and occasionally unclear application process.
Drulis noted, “Everyone was invited to apply. The application focuses on the candidates’ motivations for being involved in the program and general approach to their Alma Mater as well as their previous involvement with the school.”
Hotvedt noted that the application process was daunting, and “a lot prospective attendees who graduated last year… never ended up applying, even though it seems like everyone who applied was accepted.”
Meyer doubted that the process was competitive at all, saying, “The administration originally said that they were only going to accept 25 students, but they ended up accepting almost all of the 50 plus members of the class of 2012 that applied.”
“I’m super excited to see all the people that are going, but what was the point of filling out an application that took me more than an hour if they were just going to accept everyone?” he asked.
Like true CMC students, Hotvedt and Meyer offered constructive ideas to improve future Forums for the Future. Meyer suggested, “Actually limit the event to the number of alumni you can actually afford to subsidize. We’ve all applied to selective things before; if we didn’t get in, we would get over it,” and, “Alternatively, you could hold smaller Forums in key cities. I’m sure that holding an event in San Francisco like Forum for the Future, just for one day, would draw dozens of young alums.”
Meyer concluded, “I know how lucky I am that I go to a school that would pay for any amount for young alumni to come back and would put on an event like this…That’s why I loved it so much as a student and why I want to give back as an alumni. I’m not mad that the administration changed their policy from one year to the next. It just frustrates me that they weren’t transparent about it.”
Hotvedt agreed, saying, “I wouldn’t be coming to Forum for the Future if I wasn’t excited and enthusiastic about remaining a part of the CMC community.”