One month ago, Trinity University uploaded a video to Facebook spotlighting Brad Parscale, who graduated in 1999. Parscale was the digital adviser for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and was recently appointed campaign manager for Trump’s 2020 campaign.
“By having a liberal arts education and being able to understand the left and the right, the top and the bottom — all parts of history, all parts of business — I was able to make a decision, because I wasn’t pushed to one edge,” said Parscale in the video. “I was well-rounded.”
The alumni pushback was immediate: 103 “angry” reactions and 127 comments, most critical of either Parscale himself or of the university for promoting the man commonly credited for Trump’s unexpected electoral victory.
Two weeks after the video was posted, a whistleblower revealed that Cambridge Analytica, the data-mining consulting company that fumbled with millions of Trump’s campaign cash, had obtained data on 87 million Facebook profiles in violation of the social media giant’s privacy policies. The proximity of Cambridge Analytica to Parscale’s operations makes Trinity’s marketing move seem particularly ill-timed.
Dunking on Parscale is fun, and booing Trinity for celebrating the achievements of its measurably most harmful alumnus is absolutely justified. But we’ll hold off on that for the annual “fake news” issue, the Trinibonian. Just two more weeks, y’all.
In the meantime, we want to caution alumni against one particularly harmful threat some were contemplating online: withholding future donations to the university in protest of the Parscale video.
Clearly the outrage is genuine. But chipping away at the school’s bottom line isn’t the answer.
Trinity’s an expensive school. The students who pay full-price tuition still aren’t covering the entire real cost of their education, and those students are a minority; in the 2015-16 academic year, 93 percent of students received some form of financial support.
Plenty of that assistance is coming not from the federal government or third-party sources, but from the university itself. Part of the annual earnings on Trinity’s $38.4 million endowment are put toward scholarships and other forms of financial aid, but the school depends on annual giving to provide for students who have earned aid and those who need it.
Alumni donations make the Trinity education a reality for ourselves and our peers. It would be selfish to benefit from your degree and refuse to help afford others the same opportunity.
A similar case can be made against the prevailing attitude amongst students, that the university doesn’t deserve their donations or their parents’ — but that’s a discussion for another week.