Universities are too overrun with business pursuits
The constant rise of consumerism seems to increase without much recognition. Our society has become so commercialized that it’s often difficult for most to differentiate between the degrees of consumerism or to even take notice when it becomes too excessive.
The cases of consumerism and commercialism that we see in our day-to-day lives are in the natural places we would expect: shopping malls, movie theatres, billboard or bus ads and, of course, the endless hours of television commercials. However, there are some places that are free from this consumerism, and an effort must be made to uphold this tradition.
Places of higher education have always been regarded as an intellectual sanctuary, free from most marketing ploys present in society. Generally, universities have branded themselves, but instead of being branded by a logo, they take pride in their athletics, academics and in the culture of their institution.
What is so troublesome today is not that commercial practices are in place, but rather their unprecedented size and scope.
To give a small- scale example, while I hurry from class to class, eager to soak up new information, the last thing I need is to be bombarded by banks, cell phone companies and various corporations spieling their rehearsed sale acts.
Laurier’s concourse, the common place of gathering on campus, has become a marketplace for selling products to (often naïve) students.
Corporations are slowly becoming nothing more than sponsors to a university, as universities are allowing companies the right to endow professorships, sponsor courses and clubs and advertise across campus, even in the bathrooms.
Making profit is essential, especially given the current economic times; however, the attitude most universities take regarding their students leads me to worry about future motives.
If the university system sees itself simply as a business, their priority will be profit and not to provide a world-class education.
This ideology creates an opportunity for lowering admission standards, as increasing student population will enhance the possible marketable demographic universities can offer advertisers.
This means lower standards to complete a degree and an ever-expanding institution of capitalist policies and politics.
Furthermore, from the business standpoint, universities’ students may eventually take on the “customer’s always right” mentality whilst universities pander to students only for continued finances.
The corporatization of universities extends beyond a struggle against advertising banners on the wall.
It directly questions the credibility and future viability of our academic institutions and the future of education for generations to come.
Regardless of the source of funds, universities will always need students; likewise, students will need a university.
Universities should not see themselves as a mere business, nor as a service; from both repercussions will arise.
A balance of both is essential to maintaining the dignity of the post-secondary institution.