One of the student groups which I ran was the student academic advocacy organization – the largest group on campus. When the direction the college was taking – towards normalcy, towards classes, towards grades – began to truly worry me, I gathered my forces and led the largest signature drive in campus history. I outlined what I felt to be Hampshire’s core values and I said that they were being departed from.
Then I wondered – how to put force behind words? How to make an informal signature into something of weight? How to take a vote-with-the-hands and make it a legitimate threat to vote with the feet? How, in short, could I hit the college in the way that would do the most damage possible?
It came to me quickly: alumni donations. The document we passed around – the pledge – stated that we, the undersigned, would not support the college if it disregarded these core values. If this and this was done, we would wash out hands of the college. Transfer if we could, but give money: no. Not as student. And never as alumni.
We gained support from so many students – and faculty, and staff, and alumni, too – that the changes being discussed were immediately halted. Shortly thereafter the president of the college resigned. He’d been the one proposing the changes. We squared off. I won.