It’s interesting to see all the news programs focusing on my undergrad alma mater, George Mason University. Finally, I will no longer get quizzical looks when I tell people where I went to college. Well, unless their basketball team goes back to sucking, then I’ll only have a few years’ reprieve.
My time at GMU had its ups and downs. I had a stormy tenure as the first openly gay editor of the student-run newspaper, The Broadside, at a time when Virginia was as conservative and closed-minded as it has ever been. I was Mason’s first-ever finalist for the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarships. I co-founded Mason’s gay and lesbian student association, which I understand is still chugging along. On the academic front, I had to scramble around to find a new major when the utter incompetence of the Department of Communications left me unable to make any academic progress towards my intended degree. Thankfully, I found a home, and a degree, elsewhere.
Most importantly, I learned some of my first hard lessons about braindead governmental bureaucracies. I learned about spineless academics and administrator-collaborators who stall, prevaricate, and otherwise conspire to confound progress, biding their time waiting for trouble-making students to get frustrated and move on.
Occasionally over the last decade I have looked in on my alma mater, seeing how they’ve grown and changed over the years. George Mason University was building a sound reputation as a decent state school while I was there, and seems to have continued to flourish.
Unfortunately, when I finally washed my hands of the place, I was so disgusted by my experiences there that I felt compelled to explain to an administrator that they’d turned me from someone filled with pride and strong school spirit — the kind of school spirit which was not exactly in over-abundance at what was in the early 90s (and to some extent still is, so I’ve heard) a soulless commuter school — into someone who didn’t even want to publicly wear a cap and gown for graduation and preferred to receive his diploma by mail.
To this day, I toss every communique from GMU into the garbage can. I rarely acknowledge my time there except as an entry in my stock bio. My diploma does hang on my office wall, but that’s just to make my “Me Wall” look more impressive.
I’m not sure what they could do to redeem themselves in my eyes. If anybody from GMU alumni relations reads this, be advised: you’re not likely to see a penny of my considerable wealth until several of the more annoying professors and administrators of my era are deceased, retired, or jailed.
In the meantime, I continue to be involved with, and a supporter of, my law school alma mater, George Washington University. Instead of encouraging the door to hit me on the keister on my way out of Dodge, the folks at GW recognized a good supporter when they saw one and begged me to become an advisor to the School of Engineering and Applied Science, where I had been involved during law school with several of their Internet-related policy programs and collaborative activities.
Regardless, congrats to the GMU basketball team! You’ve come a long way. Indeed, when I was in school, they made their very first appearance in the NCAA basketball championship. Unfortunately, as I recall they drew Bobby Knight’s Indiana in the first round and got whipped in the first round.
Great to see them going farther, and maybe they’ll go all the way!