The President’s Club: Nothing for something

By The Columbia Chronicle

Christmas is only weeks away. And if you’re a friend of Columbia’s President, John B. Duff, he may have your name on a very special list. Only it isn’t a card or gift list. Instead, it’s a list of names that are potential contributors to his “President’s Club.” And if you’re a member of this exclusive club, watch out! The perks are unbelievable!

Members who make contributions of $500-$5,000 get the red-carpet treatment and are presented with a variety of snazzy tickets to Columbia events as well as other privileges. Most of us students only have about $3 to our names on a daily basis and therefore have no chance of ever getting into the club. But what if you had $5,000 to spare? Duff would woo you with a private dinner.

He would call you and tell you to be at his place by 7 p.m. He is making chicken pot pie tonight just for you. Heck, if I had $5,000 to throw around I would give it just to terrorize Duff and make him walk around the kitchen for me, holding a spatula and wearing an apron that says “Martha Stewart Living.”

If you couldn’t afford that priceless gift, consider writing a check for a slightly lesser amount of $2,500. This gives you two complimentary tickets to the college-wide Benefit Gala (worth $400) and to the Fischetti Editorial Cartoon Awards Luncheon (worth $200). Oh, and your name will be displayed on the “Honor Roll” in the 600 S. Michigan Building. Hmm…I always wanted to be on an honor roll.

Hand over only $1,000 and the gifts get even skimpier. Library privileges and complimentary subscriptions to all Columbia publications, such as this one (free to our faithful and wonderful readers), is yet another perk.

If you can’t afford any of the above, save your money and don’t bother donating the $500. It is the one category where you get absolutely no return on your investment. Your name gets printed in the president’s annual report as a donor and you get free tickets to all the 1998-99 school performances, lectures and workshops — most of which are free of charge anyway.

Ok, I may still be a little bitter about how Columbia has put me into the poorhouse and endangers my life on a daily basis while riding the satanic elevators. With that aside, I find Duff’s membership perks to be little more than a perk to his pet projects. Funds raised this year from the membership program will support the Presidential Scholarship Fund, the Betty Garrett Musical Theater Scholarship Fund, and the Paul Berger Graduate Student Fellowship in Management.

“This program (President’s Club) was created to provide you with a forum to participate more fully in the wealth of artistic and culturally diverse programs at Columbia while you help us reach our educational goals” writes Mr. Duff in his opening remarks in the form letter addressed to potential donors. Well, Mr. Duff, thank you for thinking of us.

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