Once upon a time, a lot longer ago than I care to admit, I was looking for a college. The only sticking point was that my dad said he would pay for two years at the neighborhood junior college and two years at a state-supported senior college, and that if we wanted something else, we had to get scholarships. My grades were medicore so huge scholarship offers weren't exactly filling my mailbox. However, I topped out on standardized tests so there were some offers, including one that was big enough--the only problem was that it was to an all-girls school, Mississippi University for Women, affectionately known as "The W". The funny thing was, it was also the first school from which I had gotten recruiting material. A student came to speak to my class in junior high and passed out response cards. I thought the material looked nice, but I didn't want to go to an all-girls school. Still, I remembered the place and when the scholarship offer came it, decided to take a look. Eventually I figured out that where there were that many girls, there would likely be guys, and I decided I wanted to get away from home (just the age, nothing really wrong with home) more than I wanted a co-ed school. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
I found a school where you were a person, not a number. I found a school where leadership was expected and nutured. I found a school where a sense of community was fostered. I found the school where I grew from a shy bookwormish girl into a self-confident, competent woman. I have college friends with whom I am still in contact, though we live in different states (and it one case, different countries). I even have a relationship with quite a few fellow alumnae who I have never met in real life. We met through the alumni listserve, and I can't tell you how many times I have thought as I read those emails "there aren't many colleges where a list like this would work". Once we were telling stories about the long-time chief of campus security and I wondered how many students at other schools could name the chief of security, much less tell stories about him. There are a lot of ties that bind "W girls" and I'm proud to be a part of that Long Blue Line.
Unfortunately those ties are being threatend now by one who doesn't seem to understand them--the president of the university. For reasons that are too complex to explain here, and of little to no interest to outsiders, the president and the leaders of the Alumnae Association do not get along. I don't know the president's side of the story, except to say that I know some of those officers expressed a desire to have the president replaced, and that the president knows about those desires. About a year ago the board that governs universities in Mississippi decided that universities had to have affiliation agreements with their associated groups like Alumni Association, athletic foundations, foundations etc. The president used this ruling to try to force changes to the Alumnae Associations by-laws that would basically give her control of it. When the Alumnae Association balked, the president, following the terms of the affiliation agreement that was basically rammed down the throats of the Alumnae Association, disaffiliated it. A court battle has begun.
This weekend is homecoming, which at the W is a weekend of parties, meetings, performances, campus tours and the like. There is no football game to get in the way of alums greeting old friends and making new ones. However, the Alumnae Association situation has not been resolved either way at this time. Please pray that those attending this weekend (and unfortunately I won't be one of them) have a great time and that the president is able to show real leadership and find a face-saving way out of this for everyone.