Tuesday, January 15, 2008

An open letter to Alpha Tau Omega National Fraternity.




January 14, 2008



To: Wynn R. Smiley, Chief Executive Officer
One North Pennsylvania Street, 12th Floor
Indianapolis, IN 46204
wsmiley@ato.org


Dear Mr. Smiley,

I received a credit card offer in the mail today at my workplace. It came to my attention, at my workplace address, and was marked, simply, "ADRIAN" (see photo). This kind of behavior from my own fraternity is unacceptable.

I have received previous credit card offers from Alpha Tau Omega (ATO), in partnership with Bank of America (BoA), at my home address - and those were easy enough to ignore. But for you to think it's okay to send solicitations to my place of employment is beyond forgiveness.

It is bad enough that my own beloved fraternity - who I served through many leadership roles that included Membership Educator, Rush Chair, Vice President, and Board of Trustees President - would value a dollar over my privacy at home. But now ATO is soliciting brothers at their place of employment? Are you, Mr. Smiley, so desperate for extra marginal income that you shatter the trust we place in our own national fraternity to keep our personal and financial information private?

I've read in the news how the University of Iowa alumni association sold its own database to big credit card companies without the knowledge of the university or of the former students. I've also witnessed another institution, Rotary International, offer credit cards to members like me. But at least they offer to give 1% back to the Rotary Foundation, an international aid organization that seeks to do good works like the elimination of polio worldwide. What does BoA offer ATO, besides a percentage of the profits? What do you stand to gain from this relationship, Mr. Smiley, while brothers throughout the country continue to be harrassed? The soliciation letter didn't explain.

I've given a large part of myself to ATO, only to see the national organization give nothing back but a begging cup and more and more offers for "exclusive membership" (Life Loyal Tau?) and "Platinum Plus credit lines" (the ATO Platinum Plus MasterCard). My fellow Alpha Mu brothers and I have watched as ATO devolves more and more into a slick business proposition, instead of an institution that seeks "bind men together" in the fellowship of brotherhood.

I know that dwindling membership numbers lead to a loss of income for the national organization, but I hoped it hadn't come with a loss of respectful business (should I even have to use that word?) practices. Profit should not be your main motivator. Long have others derided fraternities for "buying friends." It doesn't take a credit card or some inane membership offer to buy my loyalty to ATO. It just takes decency and respect.

Please remove my name from future marketing lists. It's the only decent thing left to do. If you don't currently have a privacy policy, you should. Because enough is enough.

Love and respect,

Dave Lawrence
Adrian College and ATO alumn, 2003
2575 W. Alpine Lake Dr. Apt. G
Jackson, MI 49203

CC: The Alpha Mu board of trustees, current Alpha Mu brothers, Consumerist.com

1 comment:

Sam said...

Hi Dave,
Good on you for writing this letter. Do you think you'll ever hear a word back from them? Just out of curiousity, would you be a bit less offended if the product they are selling is something more college related, say a laptop?
Peace,
Sam