Last week, I wrote an article exposing the University of New Hampshire’s poor expenditure of alum and longtime librarian Robert Morin's generous donation on a new $1 million video scoreboard for the football stadium. After sharing my article throughout the UNH community, it quickly went viral. In just one week, the post was shared approximately 7,200 times on various social media platforms, and received 30,000 page views.
Response to the article was mixed, some people called me a hypocrite, challenged my logic, and defended the administration's decision. Backlash is something that every writer should be prepared for. But the vast majority of the UNH community - including faculty, students, fellow alumni, and even prospective parents of potential future students - thanked me for writing the article and bringing light to the issue. And now the article and the problem that it addresses has extended much farther than just the UNH community.
My post was referenced and quoted in stories written for USA Today, New York Magazine, Inside Higher Ed, NPR, Portland Press, The Washington Post, and many more. I talked about the article on the radio show Attitude with Arnie Arnesen, and was contacted by the Boston Globe and Boston.com with requests for interviews to include in their own stories.
All of this was made possible by Odyssey - the online content platform for millennial voices. Odyssey doesn’t give millennials a voice, it gives us a microphone so our voices can be heard, to which I am extremely grateful. Since joining Odyssey in July, I have worked with an extremely talented group of writers and editors who encourage and support each other every week. Odyssey makes each and every voice feel valued. And the extensive outreach and press that my article achieved exemplifies just how powerful each voice can be. All it takes is just one person – one person to speak up and spark a chain reaction and reach hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people. Chances are that if something touches your heart, then it probably touches the hearts of many others too.
The first step to changing all the injustices in the world is to speak up and protest them. So write your heart out. Be heard. Make waves. Even if it’s exhausting, even if there’s backlash – keep fighting for what you believe in. That old saying still rings true today - “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Ideas can change the world. It won’t happen all at once. It’ll be slow, and you may not see results right away, but don’t think for even a second that your voice doesn’t matter.
The University of New Hampshire released a statement last Friday announcing that they still planned to move forward with their original plan to use $1 million of Morin’s money to buy a scoreboard for the new football stadium. As I told Boston.com, I think their decision to move forward with this, even after the outcry from their own community (and how far the criticism has extended outside the community), shows that they clearly don’t value the voices and opinions of the UNH community. It further dishonors the memory and spirit of Robert Morin. After emailing my article to the entire administration and President Mark Huddleston, I received an email from an administrator offering to meet with me to "answer my questions and discuss my concerns," but it's pretty clear that they don't care about the concerns of their own alumni, students or faculty.
CBS Boston reported that even New Hampshire governor Maggie Hassan said that the purchase of the new scoreboard was “concerning and perplexing.” The governor went on to say, “There were much more appropriate uses for these funds – such as the library and career center that received part of the donation, the new science building that the university wants or holding down the cost of tuition…I strongly encourage the university's leadership to be more thoughtful when determining how to use donations such as this”
Despite the fact that UNH is moving forward with this heinous decision, the response that my article received, and the press that it attracted to this issue, has doubtlessly put the university administration on its toes. They know now that the UNH community is watching, and we won’t idly sit around as they misuse donor’s money. The pressure is on, UNH administration. The whole nation is talking, so you might want to listen up.