Wasteful programs should be TOSSed
Last Wednesday, the marketing program known as TOSS — Trade-in Other Schools’ Shirts — gave students brand new UH T-shirts for shirts with other school names printed on them.
Though many students surely favor getting a new free shirt and showing their Cougar Pride, they seem to be divided (judging from Facebook responses) on the issue of having the shirts spray painted, “reduced to threads and re-purposed,” and then shipped overseas to be sold to poor people, instead of just going a couple of miles down the street and handing them over, wholly intact, to our impoverished city residents.
Besides the waste and inefficiency in tearing apart shirts and shipping them overseas, one might argue that the program’s basic idea of using student dollars to make Cougars into walking advertisements is wrong.
The obsession to reach Tier One in order to expand the school, bring in more money and give so much of our costly administration a purpose is much like what is observed in a traditional business.
Profits and growth are the main goals of any business, and marketing and sales the main drivers. But should education really be a business? Aren’t some things too sacred to hang a dollar on?
As we approach major cuts in funding and the resulting increases in tuition, it’s time that we the students start asking ourselves what we truly value most.
How much should we spend on marketing and expansion and how much should we spend on education and student services? Which programs make sense, and which are wasteful?
Infamous comedian Bill Hicks, who attended UH briefly, often lamented on this tendency to put a dollar on everything, calling marketing and advertising professionals “Satan’s little helpers.”
Though few others would go this far, many other insightful humorists have shown cynicism about the state of business, as well as our education system. As Mark Twain said, “I’ve never let my school interfere with my education.”
Indeed, there are many alternative ways of learning, especially in the digital age. Sadly, these alternatives also seem to justify the idea that our school is turning into a business.
If you can get an education anywhere, then the degree seems to be the primary thing schools really offer. And if the degree is what really matters, then the education can be marginalized and bastardized for higher profits.
One has to wonder how many students are passed through the system unlearned when you consider that graduation rates are one of the factors that go into determining Tier One status.
Besides the wasteful spending that goes into making UH a business, there is also wasteful spending that goes into supporting other businesses, such as the recently expired Student Savings Program.
The SGA spent $1750 last year (and may be spent again this year) to get discounts at local eateries around town, according to an article published in The Daily Cougar last year.
Though it is inevitable that students are going to eat out occasionally, it seems silly to incentivize unhealthy and expensive eating for students living in the ninth fattest city in America (according to a 2010 Men’s Health Survey) and during one of the worst recessions in recent history.
The money could have been spent on teaching and encouraging students to make their own healthy foods — something that most students don’t seem to know how to do. This is probably because those who live on campus are forced to buy Dining Services plans.
Every time we reach into our wallet, we need to think. Fiscal responsibility is one of the most important things anyone can learn, and it’s a great place for UH to start showing its commitment to education.