Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

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Join UTEP’s Alumni Association (whether you want to or not)

As a senior at UTEP who is graduating this spring, I began to make preparations earlier this month to take part in the May 16 commencement ceremony.

My first step was to attend the graduation clearance workshop, where I was informed that I was indeed cleared to graduate (cum laude to boot) and I was encouraged to join UTEP’s Alumni Association.

According to the person conducting the workshop, UTEP graduates in the past have not been particularly interested in joining the association.

She mentioned all the benefits such as networking with those in the know about possible job opportunities and looking cool at tailgate parties (whoop dee doo).

I appreciated the offer, but my four years at UTEP has been marked by one expense after another and I still needed to pay the graduation fee, in addition to buying a cap and gown.    

No matter the major, every student learns that UTEP is a business first and then a university–beginning with tuition costs, buying books, obtaining parking permits and other various student fees that allow access to facilities and services that a student may or may not have time to take advantage of.

There is also food and beverage stands scattered around campus, coupled with vending machines that give UTEP a more corporate feel—especially amidst the ongoing construction.

But that’s life on most college campuses in America.

So I went to the UTEP Bookstore ready to purchase a cap, gown and tassel, when I was offered a package deal by a very helpful clerk.

Believing that she was simply providing me with an option, I told her I only wanted to buy the cap, gown and tassel.

She informed me that there was only the package, which includes a cap, gown and tassel, shirt, coffee mug, medallion, and (wait for it) a one-year membership to UTEP’s Alumni Association.

At that moment, I wondered how many other graduating students were duped into involuntarily joining the association.

I wanted to tell her that the bookstore should be declared a crime scene because of all the robberies that take place there on a daily basis, but the cashier was nice. It was a pleasant shakedown.

I left the bookstore with my new purchases in hand, while reflecting on my academic journey at UTEP that will be coming to an end next month. And I arrived at the only conclusion that could put all the money spent, the time invested, the incredible high of studying abroad, the unexpected lows of life-changing events in its proper perspective—because it was all worth it.

I would like to thank the staff at The Prospector, and give a special thanks to Lorain Ambrocio and Kathleen Flores for allowing me the opportunity to share my voice.

Ben Woolridge may NOT be reached at [email protected].

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Join UTEP’s Alumni Association (whether you want to or not)