Alumni Affairs

Virtual Association of Alumni

Alumni instinctively feel the need for an association of some sort, a glue that binds us together.  But not everyone has the stomach for the work and formalities involved.

Think about it, the demands on an association are minimal:

  1. a directory of contact information,
  2. a forum for communication, and
  3. a succession of events/activities in which we may optionally participate:
The directory is growing; comms forums are improving (Yahoo lists are active); and initiation of events is up to anyone and everyone.  So we're all set: a Virtual Association of Alumni (VAA) already exists on the web, no office bearers, no expenses, no politics.

Well, not quite.  First, the VAA is effective only for the handful of alumni with a web connection (that number is rapidly increasing, forming perhaps more of a quorum than we could assemble physically in any given city), and many who are web-enabled are not aware of this alumni web site.  Second, there are some formal requirements when money is involved.  To cope with these needs, here's a minimalist structure consisting of Frats, Worker Bees and Legal Eagles:

  1. Frats are fraternities, gangs, autonomous units of any size, defined by geography, age, blood, interest, etc, crowds that feel comfortable together, maybe spread across different countries.  Each Frat decides upon its agenda and degree of formality based on the appetite of its members — have a picnic, register with the government, launch a spacecraft.  At least one member has access to the Web, and passes information back and forth periodically.  Several Frats already exist; much of our growth to date has been through these.  Our aim is to get every alumna into at least one Frat.  Over time there'll be more and more individuals hooked directly into the VAA, and the Frats may survive or evaporate at their choosing.
  2. Worker Bees track down local alumni who are still out of the loop.   Know of someone who's in “somewhere in the Los Angeles area, I think”?  Contact the local WB and he'll follow up.  There are no turf boundaries; we need all the WBs we can get.  Would be nice to have at least one in each significant alumni concentration: Bombay, Delhi, Goa, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, London, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, etc.  Please e-mail me to sign up.  Here's the WB list as it currently exists.
  3. National Legal Eagles were earlier called “queen bees,” but I got stung for that and the beehive analogy got turned on its ear.  These are men reasonably familiar with local business practice, who can perform quasi-legal tasks such as securing charity status, establishing bank accounts and maybe credit card accounts (the merchant type, for receiving funds) in the name of SMS, and channeling funds to the school.  There are some arguments for nationally-coordinated efforts: (a) tax deductions to contributors, which could benefit the donor/school to the tune of 25%, (b) perhaps better exchange rates on large transfers, maybe a 1–2% advantage (c) convenience, saving everyone a trip to the bank and service charges to execute an international draft.  We have one Legal Eagle at the moment, covering India.  Nominees required from other countries — it seems appropriate that since money is involved, it requires a group effort, or nominee-volunteers, to fill these posts.
There could be hybrids of the above.  A Frat could be formally organized and acquire Legal Eagle status — the Bombay group has essentially done this.

The above is not a constitution, but a realistic and sustainable framework for the glue we seek, a bit of order and a lot of flexibility.  There's no pecking order — worker bees are not answerable to legal eagles, etc.  There's no urgency to any of this, no anxiety to build Rome in a day.  We evolve at a manageable pace.

Please feel free to e-mail the Editor with your thoughts.