You have been incorrectly honored

acceptingaward.jpgNo, I will not be inducted into the Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society next month.

Really, I wouldn’t even mention it if it wasn’t hilarious.

I received an email requesting I confirm that I would attend a ceremony for a select group of Temple University students to be brought into a group of honor. Had I applied for XAE? Had I heard of XAE? Well, no.

The vanity of the young.

Still, the end of the year, even in a university setting, comes with a flurry of awards, honors, acceptances and, for me, lots of rejection. So, I didn’t think twice about calling to confirm that I would come. The woman with whom I spoke seemed confused, couldn’t find my name, but assumed she didn’t have an updated list. She wrote my name down, my guest’s name, and wished me well. The next day I got an email again requesting I confirm my coming. Well, this only made me certain I was the man they wanted. Then I got another of the same request: confirm your coming! Wow, they really wanted me. So I emailed that woman, eager to humbly confirm my coming to this fine honor. She quickly responded to the contrary.

Please accept my deepest apologies for the invitations to the XAE induction ceremony that have been repeatedly sent to you. Your email address is only one letter off from the intended recipient. We have corrected the error and you will not be bothered with confusing emails like these again.”

Well, now this didn’t make a lot of sense to me, considering my email address was christopher.wink – where that “one letter” was missed seemed strange – but I still thought she was simply apologizing for sending me more than one request for confirmation. I emailed her back, assuring her that, of course, someone of deserving of such honor was able to accept the apologies of a representative of the group looking to honor him. Once again, she responded to contrary, clearing things up.

We did not intend to give you notice that you are being inducted, and I sincerely apologize for the error. Since you were not admitted to the University through an alternative admissions program (such as the [Group left unnamed here]), you would not even be eligible at this point. Once again, I really apologize for any inconvenience this has caused!

Inconvenience? Nah. I have been un-honored before. Seems to me that I will be un-honored again. Indeed, I have been un-honored by some of the finest organizations Philadelphia has. I was once incorrectly awarded a coveted internship with an international affairs group in the city, and several years ago was sent an email congratulating me on a research grant that, in the end, was never to be mine.

None, though, top a journalism award I won last spring. A story so good, I still have the emails saved.

At that point, I was a political science and journalism double major doing well-enough for myself, so I unhesitatingly applied for a series of departmental scholarships awarded to young journalists at Temple University. I had won a prestigious award the year prior, something of which I was quite proud, so I thought I had a good shot to repeat.

In an email dated at 1:22 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18, 2007, the professor in charge of the event initially wrote me, and those others who were honored, the following:

You have been selected by the Journalism faculty to receive an award at our annual student awards program. That program will take place next Wednesday, April 25, at 1:30 p.m. in the Owl Cove on the first floor of Mitten Hall…

I was at work that day, so I emailed him that night confirming that I would attend. I didn’t get a response until two days later, at 10:10 a.m. on Friday, April 20.

We made a mistake in notifying you of a Journalism Dept. award. As it turns out, you’re not a Journalism major, so we cannot offer you a departmental award. Our humblest apologies for the error.

Whoa, there. Now, I was most certainly thinking of dropping my journalism major, but, as far as I knew, the university wasn’t able to probe my brain. I was officially most certainly still a journalism student. What is more, I had always been active with The Temple News, the college newspaper – as much a journalism department as Temple has – and, at the very least, who revokes a scholarship after awarding it because of their own mistake? (Of course, I have found that plenty of people do, though none of those decisions make sense to me.)

Again, I was at work, so I emailed that professor that night. The weekend came and went.

On Monday morning, two days before the event was to be held, he responded to my assertion that I was a journalism student by saying “Hmm. Well, if you are a journalism major, it is news to us.”

Of course, he didn’t check any official source, because if he had, as I requested my adviser do for me, he would have seen that I was a double major, including journalism. So, I wrote him that, officially, I was a j-student.”

On the day of the event, I wrote him again, suggesting the same – that I was a journalism student by any official standard – in the following way:

…I am confused, I thought I was offered an award as long as I was a journalism student, which I am. Do I have that wrong?”

I suggested that I assumed I should attend the event, as I had earned the award and done nothing to the contrary to lose the honor. At 11:55 a.m., 90 minutes before the ceremony was to begin, he responded.

Yes, that is wrong. When we learned — in error — that you were not a J student, we slid another name into that spot.”

This might be a good time to interject that this is the same professor who, one year before, in telling me of the award I had won that year, had done so on the very day of the event, just two hours before it was to begin! Indeed, I have the email to prove it.

Still, I persisted, requesting a meeting so that I might be compensated in some fashion: to be able to list the scholarship on my resume or share the prize with whomever they replaced me. I emailed him twice before he responded. On May 8, 2007 at 11:42 a.m. he responded thusly:

Stop by my office at 11 a.m. But check your attitude at the door.”

We met, but, as you might imagine, nothing was solved. He said all of my requests were impossible. He promised to keep me in mind the following year, but I told him that I was planning on dropping the journalism major – which I did – so that I would actually be ineligible the following year. It ended dismally.

Later in the week, I wrote him, thanking him for meeting but adding a compromise I thought I had.

Also, I have still been giving this scholarship incident some thought. I was hoping that you would entertain the idea that I be allowed to apply for a departmental scholarship next year. Seeing that this year mine was revoked despite my being a journalism major, doesn’t it make sense that I be able to win one next year despite my NOT being a major? Again, I mention this with all the respect that is due.”

The professor didn’t take kindly to that much at all.

Oh, you weasel! You know what? Forget journalism. You should go to law school.”

I thought that was fairly unnecessary for a professor I had only met once and, by my account at least, made the mistake in the first place. An honor, indeed.

I suppose my having an honor revoked is an annual event for me. So many un-honors, I think it merits an honor.

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