From Uncyclopedia, the content-free encyclopedia
Alumni are individuals who used to be college students but are not, anymore.
Thomas Jefferson described vacancies in what we now call the "civil" service: "Those by death are few; by resignation, none." But there are vacancies of college from time to time without benefit of body bag, even though government subsidies are making permanent study almost as solid an institution as permanent disability. These vacancies owe to the institution of graduation. Graduation does not effect a net reduction in the number of college students, but it increases the number of alumni. Thus, everyone wins. Except the alumni, who suddenly need jobs.
Alumni, like fish-out-of-water and shit-out-of-luck, are individuals detached from their natural element. Whether late for work, caught cheating on your girlfriend, or burning dinner on the stove as the fire truck pulls into the driveway, it is simply no longer a solution to write a paper. The perennial attempt of alumni to exist in productive society is a topic of long study, especially by criminologists.
Etymology is a word of intense interest to alumni. So is alumni, for the same reason: that the Great Unwashed won't understand a thing about it. "Alumni" is a Latin word, meaning "alumni," and the reason we use a Latin word is not just that it is shorter than ex-college-student, but that the man on the street needs alumni to tell him what it means, whereas otherwise alumni would not be needed until you hail a taxi.
Alumni is the masculine plural, as the Romans had the need to inquire as to the presence or absence of a penis before choosing their words. A single male one is an alumnus, unless it is female, in which case she is an alumna, unless there are more than one of them, in which case they are a gaggle of alumnae, which incidentally is a word that not even alumni know how to pronounce.
Determining whether a person is an alumnus or an alumna is a discreet way to find out whether, if you get lucky, you will be lucky.
Latin had a form of the word that was neither masculine nor feminine; and an LGBT former college student, especially those who majored in transgender studies, might like to be known as an alumnum. Several of these together would also be alumna, which might secretly please them.
If there are male and female alumni present, then the convention, from Latin, is to ignore the females, something one could never get away with doing while in college, and increasingly cannot do anywhere else since they graduated.
edit Alumni associations
Alumni form groups based on the fact that they used to attend a certain college (combined with the fact that they are no longer doing so). Their goal in these associations is to tout the institution they went to, for overtly self-serving reasons. The institution often gives them free use of a conference room for the equally self-serving reason of seeing whether people now in the productive world can guide loot back to the academic world.
Alumni associations invite alumnae, because alumnae are pleasingly round and jiggly, though increasingly frumpy as well. Alumnae at alumni associations can lead campaigns for collective action, as well as perform character assassination during elections of the association's officers.
edit Tin rattling
Running any association requires money, so alumni are adept at rattling tins for extra funds. Direct-mail campaigns, emails and invites to dine with the rich and powerful are regular enticements. If your college or university has not had notable alumni, it can always manufacture them, by awarding an "honorary" memberships to a politician, banker or self-publicist who wants that extra sucking up to. Sportsmen and women are favorites, though few alumnae can run as fast as Usain Bolt. If a result is an endowment, it kills two birds with one stone.