Sunday, November 1, 2009

Help me I`m falling

posted Thu, 04 Nov 2004

Now that I am coming out of my shame spiral, I am getting angry at the guy who wrote the letter complaining about me to the president and the board of directors of the university and posted the complaint about me on the AOL board. Because of him, my rights and privileges have been revoked. You know, the ones you get when you graduate from college – the ones mentioned on your diploma? Those rights and privileges. Gone.

And I have been fired as an alumni recruiter. Not that that’s such a big deal. I haven’t interviewed a prospective student in four years, but to be fired! From a volunteer position. Honestly!

I understand that the Admissions Office needs to do what they need to do from a PR perspective, but man. This guy was something else.

He was upset because he says I told his daughter she didn’t have a chance of being admitted and not even to bother to apply. He also said I had not even seen her credentials. I never told her she didn’t have a chance of being admitted and not to apply. That would have been so rude!

The only thing I can think that I might have said would have been about ACT scores. If they had asked, I would have told them “low 30s,” which the lady in the admissions office told me was really not the right thing to say. “We look at the whole student,” she said. “I know everyone always wants to know the formula, but there really isn’t one. If they have more questions, tell them to call us.” I wish I’d known that before I volunteered.

That said, I don’t know anyone I went to school with who got lower than the equivalent of ACT low 30s on the SAT. According to the Rice website, last year’s freshman class SAT scores broke out thusly:

25th percentile: 1,340
75th percentile: 1,500

The ACT equivalents of those scores are 33 and 30. So I was wrong. There must be students with scores lower than 30. I did write a letter to this guy apologizing because I felt so bad for his daughter. I hate that I would have hurt her feelings that way and I hate that she had that impression of me and of Rice. (Even though I don’t remember ever actually speaking to her – her dad spent the entire time talking to me about sports.)

I do not feel bad that he was upset about my attitude about Rice and sports. Indeed, he seemed more upset about that than he did about my alleged comment to his daughter. He was talking to me about Rice football and the new conference that Rice was joining. I was trying to be polite, but I am not a big fan of any sport. Being a Rice sports fan takes a special kind of masochist and I gave up on that long ago.

When he told me that Rice was joining the same conference as the local state university, I was flabbergasted. “But Rice and local state U have nothing in common!” I said. I meant it mostly in the sense that Rice does not need to go hundreds of miles to lose to a much bigger school – it can stay in Texas to lose to a bigger school.

But this guy took my comment as some big insult. In his letter, he wrote that I was “nasty and condescending.” I guess “confused, ignorant, uninterested and undiplomatic” were not good enough. (NB: When I told this story to a colleague, he said he thought this guy was hitting on me -- not in the letter, of course, but in the original conversation.)

I wanted to tell this guy that if college sports were important to him – or maybe to his daughter, the potential student – then Rice was the wrong school. Rice is not a football school. Or at least it wasn’t when I was there. We did not win a single football game my last three years of college.

But for some reason, expressing that particular idea seemed undiplomatic to me. Ha. If only I had some section of my brain that filtered tactless, undiplomatic words before they actually left my mouth. Which is worse: to say mean, tactless things on purpose or to say them inadvertently, not even realizing they might hurt someone?

To say them inadvertently is worse, I think. If you know what you are saying, at least the filter is there. You could turn it on if you wanted it. I don’t even have the sense to know something might be hurtful. There is something essential missing in my brain. The solution might be to sew my lips shut and learn sign language.

And to think my dad actually wanted me to go into the Foreign Service. It is to laugh.

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