Friday, October 10, 2008

I guess advertising for a burrito is not way to raise college revenue

Folks, once again I get another chance to make light of colleges trying to use advertising and corporatization to make some money. I have done this before here (which has links to other times I have made light of the issue). This time the story deals with a professor who was advertising for a burrito restaurant. The restaurant in question basically paid for advertising space in the professor's class. Actually, given the scheme, I don't think it was terribly disruptive to the educational process. Here is how it was supposed to work out:

Kyle Volk, an assistant professor of history, placed stickers promoting El Diablo on a syllabus for “The Americas: Conquest to Capitalism,” his survey course covering American history to 1896, with an enrollment of 250. He also mentioned the restaurant by name during class, and projected its logo on a screen.

Now, that does not sound like a big deal. It's kind of like saying, "this class is brought to you by El Diablo Restaurant, makers of fine burritos" or something like that. And besides, Dr. Volk was being resourceful. His department ran out of funds for paper and copier toner, so he did what a lot of entrepreneurial Americans do: he sold ad space. If Dr. Volk would have been in the business school, instead of the history department, this probably would not have been an issue. The department would have been funded just fine. But even if he did do it in the business school, my guess is he would have been praised for his ingenuity and his sense of entrepreneurship. I bet his initiative would have been taught in other business classes as a good business model. Hey, selling ad space works for MySpace, Facebook, The New York Times and even Google. So it ought to work for academia, right? Unfortunately, our dear doctor works in the humanities, where they have a bit more concern about not selling out. And since administrators often have little concern for the humanities, departments like Dr. Volk's run out of supplies to teach their classes. So, you can't advertise in textbooks apparently, and now you can't even place an ad for a burrito in your classes either.

Damn, and here I was thinking that I could sell some ad space during my BI sessions at the library to help with the funding issues. Think about it. We could sell space for things like coffee (Starbucks), food (pizza), computers (pick your brand, though our campus I believe contracts with Dell), and so on. Heck, I could even advertise burritos (Taco Bueno and Taco Bell, not to mention a few Tex Mex places, can be found in town. I am sure I could get a good deal). And it could work out pretty easy. I could put a small logo on any pathfinders I use for BI (sticker if print, or online for websites). I could feature the business's logo at the start and end of the session with a small mention, then move on. And we could raise some much needed funds. It's not like the university is giving us a whole lot of anything for materials.

And by the way, advertising in a class called "The Americas: Conquest to Capitalism" practically means the jokes write themselves. One of the commenters over at the story asked why should the athletic departments get all the sponsors? Something to ponder.

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