Please enable Java in your browser's "Options" (or "Preferance") menu to view this page Concordia's Thursday Report____________October 8, 1998

Confusing education with consumerism

Advertising on campus raises eyebrows

The eye-catching Zoom ads aren't the only signs of a growing corporate presence on campus, and some Concordia staff and students are wondering about a trend toward corporatization.

Allison Leyton-Brown, in her first year in Fine Arts, described Loyola during Orientation. "There were all these tents set up; you could fill out a two-page survey on whether you use their product. It was so revolting!"

She laughed. "I mean, I walked away with my free sample, but I don't know. Education is being confused with the whole notion of educating the consumer within the school."

Roger Kenner, coordinator of Open and Distance Learning and a staff member for 19 years, described the Henry F. Hall Building as "two floors of merchants hawking their wares -- it's like a marketplace. Past a certain point, I can't help wondering if it demeans our institution in
people's eyes."

Kenner has no problem with merchants who come in and provide a service that really benefits students, or gives them a direct discount, but he said that allowing a merchant on campus could be seen as an endorsement. "There's no one in charge, no guidelines -- at least not that I'm aware of."

He cited credit card companies as a concern. "Is this the right thing to do, getting students into credit the minute they walk in the door?" he asked. Leyton-Brown expressed a similar concern about the effect of advertising on student finances.

"The minute you decide to go to university, you realize it's going to be financial hell," she said. "You account for tons of spending, and hardly any of that is expended specifically for school. You end up spending so much money that it becomes a lifestyle."

Kenner suggested that Concordia staff and students be kept informed about where and how proceeds from advertising and sales booths are used. For example, the Zoom ads could include a footnote saying that proceeds from the advertising go directly to the recycling committee.

"That might be a step in the right direction. At least students would make the connection between the ad and some organization," he said.

Leyton-Brown sees the donation of revenue to the recycling committee as a silver lining to the cloud of advertising. "I guess advertising would be here anyway; at least they're donating the money to something that's a good cause." It's a smart move by corporations who want to improve their public relations, "but at least it's going somewhere."

- Jane Davenport

Copyright 1998 Concordia's Thursday Report.