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Abillion dollars. That seems like a lot of money to someone like me who cannot even scrape together five or six quarters to go do laundry. Does President Bok really think that a fourth or fifth-rate school like Harvard (according to Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report) can still grab that much cash?
I don't think that handshakes, a few smiles, and a some positions on the board of trustees are going to generate the kind of money that Harvard is expecting from the upcoming billion dollar fund drive. That is why I have a few sure-fire suggestions for fundraising from my days as treasurer of the Student Council.
*A Harvard Car Wash. An old stand-by with a new twist. Harvard students fly to wherever your car is and clean it with the precision of the dorm crew. The extra feature is that they also remove any unsightly rear window stickers and replace them with complimentary Harvard ones.
*The immediate re-release of all Harvard films. I can envision "Love Story" becoming the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" of the '90's, especially if Crimson Key members fan out around the country and supply additional lines as they do for all first-year students. "Soul Man" and "The Paper Chase" could draw a lot of funds for Harvard Law School. Who could ask for a more vibrant spokesperson than John Houseman?
*Actually, that's just what the fundraising effort needs---celebrity spokespeople. Derek Bok is a big name in the academia, but he's no Bart Giamatti. Think of all of the money that a real star could generate. Look at Bill Cosby sucking in millions for Temple University. Maybe we could negotiate a deal with America's second best Dad, Michael Gross, from "Family Ties." I'm sure that he isn't doing much these days.
*Jane Fonda would be the perfect celebrity to lead the Harvard Protest Fund Drive. She could join forces with all three of Harvard's student activists and picket major American businesses. They could chant "Hey, hey, ho, ho, what we need is lots of dough," and pass around little tin cups for contributions.
IF even these measures fail to produce billion dollar results, there is still one angle left. It might, however, damage Harvard's liberal reputation and incite a Marxist backlash on campus.
*The Junk Bond Fund Drive. Derek Bok could lead a group of aspiring student financiers to Wall Street with enough of Harvard's endowment to buy out the Trump Shuttle. After renaming it the Harvard Shuttle, and promising that it will run on time, they could build a runway behind Soldier's Field.
But why stop with the Trump shuttle? With the monstrous amount of cash in the endowment, Harvard could become the most feared corporate raider since Trump himself. We could buy the Holiday Inn chain and refurbish the rooms with blocked- in fireplaces, extra-- long beds, and light fixtures that resemble giant glowing alka-seltzer tablets.
Of course President Bok would have to guarantee personally that the Harvard Junk Bond Fund Drive would not take over any company that does business with South Africa. Otherwise, Fonda and the Protest Fund Drive would have to come and picket them.
The other problem is that Harvard, already under investigation for collusion, would be under the tight scrutiny of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The University could surely smooth things over with Washington by dispensing honorary degrees to every top-ranking member of the Bush administration.
President Bok should take a close look at these sugestions. If he ignores them now, he will be stuck in a couple of months when his only option for raising money is to convince a public television station to run a phone bank drive. And the chances of that happening are about a billion to one.
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