Tuesday, September 30, 2008

If Batman went to Princeton, why isn't it called Wayne College?

One of the things that comes with being a Princeton student is becoming a Princeton alum and being asked for money by the University every year of the rest of your natural life. Below I imagine what a TigerCall conversation with Bruce Wayne/Batman might be like.

The phone is ringing. Frankly, he wishes it would stop. It’s distracting him and he has to concentrate on his work. Where is Alfred? The phone stops ringing, the answering machine starts talking, Alfred’s voice fills the cave: “You’ve reached Bruce Wayne. Kindly leave a detailed message with your name, purpose, and telephone number and we will return your call as soon as we are able.” Beeeeeeeep.

“Um, hi, this is Martha calling for Bruce…” a woman’s voice calls out. He has no idea who she is. Of course, given the exploits of Bruce Wayne, that’s not something entirely surprising, though he does think that perhaps he would remember a woman named Martha. Still, no point in having to answer the call later. He picks up.

“Hi Martha, it’s Bruce,” he says.

“Oh,” she seems startled that he actually picked up. “Hi Bruce, my name’s Martha, I’m a senior at Princeton and I’m calling from Annual Giving. How are you this evening?”

Annual Giving? He has no idea what that is. Probably something Alfred or Lucius take care of.

“Actually, I’m kind of busy at the moment,” he tells her.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” she answers, “I’ll just be a moment then. I just wanted to thank you for everything you do for Princeton—

“Wait, remind me again, what exactly do I do for Princeton?” he interrupts her.

“Oh.” The question seems to stump her. “Well, as an alumnus of Princeton you—

He cuts her off again. “You do realize that I never graduated?”

“Yes,” she says, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t part of the Princeton family; we just wanted to thank you for everything you and other alumni have done for the University over the years.”

“Is that all?”

“Well, no… actually, we wanted to see if you had thought of giving to Princeton this year.”

“Giving what to Princeton this year?”

“We wanted to know if you might be interested in making a donation to this year’s Annual Giving campaign.”

“Oh, so, you want money?”


“I’m not surprised… that’s what most people want from me.”

“Most people?” the girl sounds confused. “Wait, you’re not, the Bruce Wayne, are you?”

“I think so. You mean the one from Gotham City with Wayne Enterprises and the Wayne Foundation?”

“Oh my God! I’m so sorry Mr. Wayne, I had no idea!” she screams out in excitement. “It doesn’t say anything other than your name and class and contact information on my card.”

“It’s ok,” he reassures her. “And Bruce is fine. How much did I give last year?” he asks her because if all it takes to get her to let him to go back to work is a little money, that’s no problem.

“Actually,” she says, embarrassed, “you didn’t give any money last year. Or the year before. Or the year before that. Or ever, actually.”

“I see. Normally somebody else takes care of these things. I don’t know who it is. Maybe it’s my butler, but I don’t know where he is. What’s the recommended donation?”

“Well,” she seems unsure. Probably because she’s talking to a billionaire playboy who wants to know how much money she thinks he ought to give to Princeton. “We really would appreciate anything it’s in your heart to give. Most people give somewhere between $20 and $100, I think.” He’s not sure whether he’s going to give yet, but he wants to make sure that this is real. He takes the phone back to the Batcomputer and starts to put a trace on the call.

“Ok, so I can definitely afford that. But tell me, why should I give to Princeton? I mean, I dropped out, not under the best of terms, and I didn’t even get into the Woodrow Wilson School or Ivy. Actually, I had a pretty lousy time there.”

“I’m sorry to hear that Mr. W—Bruce. I assure you however that Princeton is now very different, and the Administration is constantly trying to improve student life. Just recently, we opened a new four-year Residential College which provides a great option for students who don’t choose to join an eating club. The Wilson School is still very selective, but most students who don’t get in find that they end up loving their majors regardless and really enjoy their independent work. Besides, it seems like you did ok for yourself regardless.”

He chuckles. “That’s true.” Of course, the girl can’t see him with his cape and pointy ears. “In fact, I could give Princeton a lot more than $100, but I already support many charitable causes through the Wayne Foundation. Why should I give money to Princeton? Doesn’t Princeton have enough money?”

“It’s great that you use your wealth to support worthy causes; it fits especially well with the Princetonian motto, ‘In the Nation’s service—and in the service of all nations.’ However, there needn’t be a conflict between giving to Princeton and giving to other charitable causes. And after all, most of the money we collect through Annual Giving goes to financial aid, so your contribution is going to help bright young people who might not otherwise be able to afford to go to college. Who knows. One of those people may end up finding the cure for cancer.”

“Ok then,” the Batcomputer has a trace on the call and he’s hacked into a government satellite to get a good look at the girl on the other end of the line. She looks extremely tired. It’s a feeling he can sympathize with.

“So how are you?”

“I’m ok. I’m tired. Trying to get my thesis done, study for midterms, get a job, you know. Hey Bruce, what’s your take on the financial crisis?”

“Wait, there’s a financial crisis?” he asks, pretending to be stupid. “Why didn’t Lucius tell me? I wonder how Wayne Enterprises stock is doing…”

“The stock market dropped 777 points yesterday.”

“Oh. Maybe I won’t be able to buy that yacht after all. I guess I’ll have to ask Alfred. Anyway, what’s your thesis on?”

“Oh, it’s about the Spanish Civil War. It’s really interesting actually, I’m building an argument around the painting Guernica—

“Don’t I own that one?” he asks, even though he knows he doesn’t.

“Um. I don’t think so Bruce.”

“Is it a nice painting?”

“It depends on your definition of nice. It’s a statement against the ruthless mass murder that occurred in Guernica and generally—

Suddenly there’s a beeping sound at the Batcomputer. There’s a crime in progress on Fifth and 86th.

“Right, right. Ok, Martha, was it? Listen, I really have to go, but it’s been nice chatting with you. Send me some information on Annual Giving and I’ll give it some thought. OR Alfred will. Or Lucius. I don’t know. Someone. And if you’re ever in Gotham give me a call.” Click, he was gone.

On the other end, Martha put the phone down in exasperation. “I had Bruce Wayne on the phone; I had him. I’m sure he was ready to give… and then, he hung up on me.”

She checked off a box—“Maybe” and filled out the card, moving on to the next Never Giver. Some guy named Alexander Luthor…

[Allegedly, it’s stated in Smallville that Lex Luthor went to Princeton too. I don’t watch the show, but it makes one wonder why we never hear about this…]

Disclaimer: Neither I nor the Daily Princetonian own Batman or Bruce Wayne. Also, This isn't what an actual TigerCall is usually like.


Lillian Zhou '11 said...

:) This brightened my morning.

Baller E said...

“Ok, so I can definitely afford that. But tell me, why should I give to Princeton? I mean, I dropped out, not under the best of terms, and I didn’t even get into the Woodrow Wilson School or Ivy. Actually, I had a pretty lousy time there.”

This is, within the frame of Batman Begins and the Nolan-verse (and the only one where Bruce explicitly attended Princeton), factually inaccurate. Batman did not drop out, he was kicked out. Furthermore, he didn't have a lousy time.

All of this information comes from the few seconds of conversation that Princeton has capitalized off of endlessly in search of an (unnecessary) ego boost. Bruce explicitly states that it is not that he does not like Princeton, but that the people there are not crazy about him.

Also, nobody mentions Smallville because it is a terrible television show instead of a series of films put forth by one of Hollywood's best directors.

P.S. Jezebel Jet is Harley Quinn, Batman has killed Bruce Wayne, and the Joker is crazier (and uglier) than ever.