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Monday, September 11, 2006

Hold the Alumnae Fund Accountable

This letter (below) from the Alumnae Fund will be sent out to Smith College alumnae this fall, and will be followed up with a phone call. If you are an alumna, I urge you to read the letter, and--whether you give or not--respond in writing, or take the time to speak with the student assigned to call you.

Let them know that President Christ's administration is behaving terribly. That the "dialogue" about which this letter speaks was a farse. That the Educational Use Overlay, the destruction of Green Street, the erection of 80-foot tall buildings, the end of in-house dining, and the rest of this administratino's corporate-styled, financially-driven plans of attacking the very heart of Smith must cease--immediately.

If you do not feel you have enough information to take a stand, then do what this letter encourages you to do: ask questions. Demand answers. Think critically. Look to the future and to the past. Consider what your Smith experience, consider what constitutes academic excellence, consider what is right. Speak up.

Is it possible to eradicate a neighborhood and still say that "Smith women know how to negotiate?" Is it possible to found a Smith education upon basic values, including the ability to "conduct collaborative research," while also refusing to engage in any collaborative process with the residents of the town in which Smith College thrives?

There are so many contradictions that need pursuing. Take the time to hold the Alumnae Fund accountable before you write your check.

The Fall Appeal Letter:

>>For the past 18 months, the entire Smith community has engaged in a dialogue to define educational excellence for women who live in an increasingly global society. Faculty reviewed ways to retain the best of our liberal arts tradition while recognizing the roles women should play in the sciences, engineering, and computer science. You shared thoughts about your Smith experience and the college’s lasting impact on your life and work. Time after time, your comments echoed the faculty’s findings. Our conversations helped develop several strategic directions that Smith will pursue in the next decade.

We believe that Smith women should be able to present their ideas to others in a compelling manner, know how to negotiate, and function well in a variety of different settings. They must be scientifically literate and have good quantitative skills. Regardless of their major, all Smith students should have the experience of conducting collaborative research with faculty and fellow students and the ability to apply their understanding of this process to any learning situation. We expect students to have a sense of responsibility to society and to engage with its challenges, be aware of pressing global issues, such as environmental sustainability, and learn first-hand about the world’s many cultures.

Each of us is living proof that students will have multiple roles and careers, often quite different from what they thought life would hold. We believe Smith has a responsibility to help students and alumnae think systematically about how to structure their lives and how to inform and support one another as they move through stages of personal and professional growth.

Our commitment to Smith affirms that we value our education, and our support allows the college to offer opportunities to many women of promise. We recognize that each generation must be willing to share the benefits of their education with those who come after them. The annual support we provide permeates every aspect of campus life and is essential to the vibrant college experience every student finds when she comes to Smith.

Consider the value of your Smith education and all the experiences you hope the college will offer to future generations. With these expectations for excellence in mind, please support the Alumnae Fund with a gift of . Your generosity will have both an immediate impact and infinite value for Smith women of the future.

Sincerely,

Debra Thal

Chair of the Alumnae Fund Committee>>

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