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A spirit that is not afraid

Sometimes Free Pizza is Not So Free

Like many students last fall I spent more than a few hours putting together scholarship applications hoping I might get a few thousand dollars back in exchange for my hard work. Some of them actually asked me about things I had done in high school.

Because I am totally able to remember the handful of awards I earned three or four years ago. I do remember I joined the German club in 10th grade. It was for the free pizza they served at meetings.

But long story short, I ended up writing two different essays and creating multiple outlines explaining what I did in high school and, after that, in college.

I fulfilled all the requirements I was told were necessary.

However, when I was awarded the scholarships I found out there were some additional requirements. Requirements I was not aware of when I embarked upon my money-seeking journey back in January.

Turns out I was obligated to send thank-you notes to different people and organizations who were involved in setting up the scholarships before I would get any of the money.

Now, I am not knocking gratitude or thank-you notes. I actually have a couple boxes of them I purchased at Hallmark specifically for the purpose of letting others know I'm appreciative of whatever they've done for me.

And I was actually planning on sending thank-you cards to the people who had been generous enough to provide students, like myself, with money for school long before I even found out about the requirement.

What I'm not so crazy about is turning what should be an action that flows out of the heart voluntarily into a requirement that has to be fulfilled before a student can get his or her money.

As another student who was irate about this obligation pointed out, it's not like the donations staff asks potential donors whether their gifts stem from legitimate altruism.

They don't tell people, "No, we don't want your money because you're more interested in getting your name on a building than you are about helping students."

Heck no. They just make sure people fill out their respective forms correctly and then smile when they accept the check.

I wouldn't be surprised if the donor relations staff has a whole thank-you note writing staff.

I just think that turning thank-you notes into an obligation to be fulfilled before a student can get their scholarship taints any natural gratitude that may have existed.

And what about students who aren't actually grateful, but write notes anyway? Should those students be faulted for deceiving their benefactors?

Or should the administration be criticized for requiring students to "thank" people and organizations some award recipients may view as little more than names representing a requirement.

Don't get me wrong--I think expressions of gratitude should be encouraged in everyone. I just don't know that it should be added as a final obstacle to be met with before a student can get the reward they thought they had already earned.

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