Muskrat News Legal Briefs

Warning:  This column contains exactly two true sentences:  This one and the next-to-last one.

I recently got an invitation to join the Class Gift Committee. I initially thought this was a group of "gifted" students, i.e., that I was being asked to join Duke Law's version of Special Ed. But the invitation wasn't in crayon - it was in the form of an e-mail to the entire class. Flattered at not being singled out, and desperate for column material, I decided to join.

The organizing meeting was run by two disgustingly wholesome-looking people who claimed to be 3Ls, but I didn't recognize them, so I'll call them Ken and Barbie. They started by outlining the events that will be involved in the campaign, from the big kickoff in March, through small section dinners and a keg party to the Mysterious Uptick In Locker Break-Ins and the Anonymous Blackmail Threats in May. Volunteers were needed for tasks such as designing the pledge form, organizing social events to promote the campaign, and stockpiling Rohypnol for the Stubbornly Resistant Non-Pledgers Happy Hour.

The highlight of the meeting was the document for use on reluctant givers called "Responses to Common Concerns."  Samples of the contents include:

Concern:  "Giving a gift is not financially possible right now." 

--Pledges aren't due until 2006 and a re not legally binding. It's a total scam to boost our rankings.
--You're not gay are you?  I hear only gays won't pledge.
--You're going to be rolling in cash for the rest of your life and you can't spare $50 payable in a year and a half?  You little turd!
--(If talking to PILF-type):  The money totally goes to the "loan repayment fund."  (For legal reasons, must make "air quotes" around name of fund)
--You're a lot more able to give now than you would be if both your arms were broken, am I right?

Concern:  I have a problem with OCS/Certain Faculty/The Beer Pong Ban

--Quit your bellyaching, you little scrimp.
--At least you have a job - look at Prestwood!
--(if talking to Prestwood or Kanyikcsa) "Dude, the free popcorn was worth something, wasn't it?")
--If you don't give, the terrorists win.
--Look, Professsor X never actually unhooked your bra, so I say no harm no foul!
--All the future millionaires are giving, and if you don't, you'll be blackballed from every decent club between The Hamptons and Hilton Head.

The single biggest concern noted is that the "class gift" doesn't buy anything tangible - it just goes into the general fund. There were some ideas tossed around about looking for a suitable object - a bench, a library display cabinet - and we narrowed the finalists down to:

--Catapult large enough to throw water baloons at Fuqua.
--Full-length mirrors for DLJ offices, because it's hard to preen with a small mirror.
--Obsidian altar in Blue lounge for pre-exam sacrifices to Ixlcoagulatl, God of The Median.
--Bitchin' rooftop deck with tiki bar.
--Conversion of "changing rooms" in new 2d floor bathrooms to peep shows through common wall with other-gender bathroom. Given state of Duke student bodies, mechanism would open UNLESS repeatedly fed with quarters.

However, in the end Ken ruled all of the ideas out of order. He explained that the gift needed to be in cash so that Dean Bartlett could use it to pay certain "off-books" expenses such as upkeep on the Cheech Marin Faculty Herb Garden. The whole reason for the gift campaign, he explained, was to "keep the faculty baked enough that they don't notice too much." 

The real reason for giving is, of course, that we received a world-class education in a great environment, and we'll benefit from it -personally and professionally - to the end of our days, so a few bucks is the least we can give back. And those locker break-ins are a hassle to clean up.

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