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Pravda spacer The Vacuum - Issue 14 - Media
Pravda - Queen's
by Neal Alexander
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Not all of you plebs will have access to a copy of Queen's, which is, of course, entirely to the point as this is a publication reserved for the elect: the alumni and 'friends' of Queen's University Belfast. The arrival of this slim but glossy quarterly magazine on your hall mat is a gesture of inclusion and a claim not only upon your attention but also your continued affection. You are an alumus/alumna (this Latin term stubbornly refuses to transcend gender boundaries) of this venerable academic institution and therefore a 'friend' of the University; wherever in the world your subsequent life and career has taken you Queen's claims you as its own and implicitly asks that you repay this compliment in kind. This applies particularly to those of you who have, in that smuggest of phrases, 'made good' in the wider world of business, arts, whatever, for the University quietly but firmly asserts its right to bask in your reflected glory. Those who have won prizes for civil engineering projects, invented new techniques in medical science, or delivered an annual lecture at the University of Saskatchewan are catalogued diligently in the pages of Queen's and subjected to reserved but warmly avuncular praise. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those Queen's graduates who have gone on to distinguish themselves as, for example, environmental protestors, session musicians, or drag queens remain somewhat underrecognised.
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However, if alumni magazines expend much of their effort upon puffery, self-promotion, and the celebration of (certain forms of) achievement, then this is often directed towards a definite and easily discernable end: fundraising. Having laid claimed upon a place in your heart, and reminded you of the many opportunities for maudlin reminiscence afforded by a plethora of re-unions and 'old boys'-style get-togethers, Queen's asks you to make the important transition from fond remembrance to practical (monetary) contribution. Having benefited from the excellent education Queen's has granted you, the University now asks that you reach for your wallet or, better still, rewrite your Will in its favour. Hence the full page notice in the Spring 2004 Issue entitled 'A Gift for Tomorrow', which informs potential benefactors: 'Your Will not only allows you to decide the future of your assets; it can help you influence the future of education. Please consider leaving a gift to The Queen's University of Belfast Foundation.' A 'Legacy Brochure' is available on request. Less ambitiously, readers are also encouraged to support a Book Fund appeal in support of the projected new Library development at Queen's by 'adopting' a book (or books). Many of the books currently shelved in Queen's Library have never known a stable home environment, suffering years of abuse or neglect in decrepit and comfortless surroundings. Why not make a contribution today and help put an end to their misery?
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The refrain that runs through Queen's magazine centres upon the Issue of 'investment': graduates and other donors ('friends') are encouraged to 'give something back', to invest in the University's future development as a return for Queen's investment in them. It is apposite therefore that the Spring 2004 Issue should begin and end with full-page ads for, respectively, Invest Northern Ireland and the Bank of Ireland. This latter organisation officially 'supports' the magazine and is the subject of an appreciative article headlined 'Bank of Ireland gives Queen's graduates the red carpet treatment' where it is revealed that alumni may expect 'a unique range of products and services', including 'preferential' accounts, selected discount rates and tailored advice. As a Queen's graduate you are special, belonging as you do to a wide-ranging but intimate community of special people. As a consequence doors will open, red carpets will be rolled out, preferential treatment will be proffered. Sit back, relax, enjoy the benefits of association. Get in touch with old classmates living on the other side of the world. Reminisce, correspond, network. Wear your College tie to interviews and functions. Most of all, don't forget us. Don't dare. We made you what you are.
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