The allure of online auctioning has drawn a new sort of customer: Texas universities.
Texas A&M University recently pocketed $5,900 after selling three 20-year-old buses over the popular eBay auction service, the Houston Chronicle reported. The school is now making plans to get rid of 22 more. The University of Texas tried to sell a 30-foot crane earlier this year, but was unsuccessful. (Not everything can sell on eBay.)
Last year, Penn State University made about $90,000 from about 100 sales on eBay, clearing out old wrestling mats, pianos and an ice cream machine. Other schools across the country are doing the same, including Oregon State, Michigan State and Washington State universities.
Selling off surplus is smart, though in Texas, it can only be used as a last resort: first, universities have to make sure other departments can’t use surplus equipment, then they have to offer it to public schools. If UH and more schools followed suit, they could use the dollars to show that they are money-conscious and are finding innovative ways to help the bottom line.
Want to surf for porn? It’s OK at UT
A task force charged with reviewing The University of Texas System’s information technology use policies didn’t recommend installing systemwide content filtering to prohibit viewing obscene or pornographic Web sites in its final report, released Sept. 13. Their reasoning was that since pornography was not illegal, it could not be banned on moral grounds from state-owned property.
It did, however, urge officials to enforce state law, which prohibits child pornography and viewing Web sites that contribute to creating a hostile work environment, which is a form of harassment.
By keeping the gates open, UT wisely avoids a free speech lawsuit and won’t feel the chilling effect that restrictions often have in academic environments.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that using school computers to look at pornography is socially or professionally acceptable.