Brand the campus?

Concordia is no stranger to advertising or corporate influence. Just ask anyone who’s been to the washroom on campus, walked by the John Molson School of Business or got a coffee or sandwich from any of the chains brought in under the exclusivity contract the school has with Chartwells. Neither are most other universities in North America, for that matter.

At Concordia, though, it looks like the corporate presence on campus may get bigger. President Judith Woodsworth recently told student newspaper The Link that she thinks an American-style tuition model is better than the government-subsidized one that is already in place. While she hasn’t specified exactly what role she anticipates for them or what this private model may look like, there is a possible example already in effect at McGill.

McGill’s MBA program recently adopted a self-funded model. Instead of costing $1500 a year for Quebec students, tuition will be $29 500 a year starting next year.

“We’re worried this trend might continue in other programs and other universities,” says Nadia Hausfather of the group Montreal Students Against Tuition Increase, “add to that the fact that the president of Concordia has been reaching out to the business community for more funding. While this might seem harmless and well-intentioned, we are concerned that asking for help from business implies an acceptance that the government can not or will not invest in education. We are also concerned that this could mean accepting a growing presence and influence of business on campus.”

One group that isn’t concerned about the increased corporate presence on campus is PubPartout. This Billionaires For Bush-esque marketing firm wants to see the “complete commercialization of our culture” and is ecstatic about the prospect of more spots on campus to advertise.

Concordia student taking the PubPartout survey with CEO Brandon You (photo by Cindy Lopez)

“We want to see a corporate logo on every building and textbook as well as name branding on every faculty and department,” says PubPartout CEO Brandon You, “with higher tuition, we may even be able to convince the students to brand themselves.”

The group was on campus last Tuesday and returns to the Hall Building today. Their plan is to have students fill out a survey with questions like “privatized education is good because…” and “how excited are you to be branded?”

If this doesn’t give you the impression that their tongues are somewhere in the vicinity of their cheeks, then maybe the game they have will. They are inviting students to put on a blindfold and then “pin the corporate logo on the University.”

Pin the corporate logo on the university (photo by Cindy Lopez)

Last week, many students were happy to oblige, though with a bit of trepidation about the rationale behind the exercise. This week, who knows. If you want to find out, you can go to the second floor of the Hall Building between 2pm and 5pm or fill out their survey online.

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