Since the mission of GW is to serve the academic and other scholarly needs of our students above all else, I perform a precarious balancing act when I weigh the merits of the many compassionate appeals I receive to support worthy causes. My discretionary budget is limited, and I use it sparingly so that my support can do good where there is greatest need and the justification valid.
Although the University is not an international relief agency, who can be so hard-hearted as to ignore the terrible earthquake disaster that recently befell India? So I responded positively to the request from GW’s Indian Students’ Association to assist their “Earthquake Relief Fund” by discounting the Lisner Auditorium fee for their Holi Rangeela show. Their plan was to “transform that event into a charity drive for the Earthquake Relief Fund.” My plan was to provide them with rental relief so that revenue from ticket sales would go to their relief fund. Those attending the show would have been paying to see the event and ticket revenues could now go into the relief fund. Any contributions made during a donation drive at the show would be prompted by compassionate responses to the dreadful plight of those who survived the earthquake and would augment the revenues from ticket sales.
Imagine my dismay when I received a letter from the Indian Student’s Association telling me that “due to my assistance, their Holi Rangeela Show is now 100% free for all people attending.” I believe that the event’s organizers, probably unwittingly and certainly misguidedly, have taken significant dollars out of the relief jar to make, as their poster announces: “Holi Rangeela 2001: For the First Time Ever . FREE!!!” – a bad decision and one that may influence my own decision when next faced with requests for relief funding. Those who attended the event can restore my faith. I hope they do. Contributions to the Indian Earthquake Relief Fund will be the proof of the pudding that comes with the eating. I am counting on you all to do the right thing.
-Stephen Joel Trachtenberg