Any student who was on campus last week will be very familiar with UMass Boston’s new logo and slogan: “For the Times.” A two-day celebration in the center of campus, new flags along the roads, a colorful mural in Wheatley, a new website design and lots of free promotions are just some of the things the university has done to celebrate this rebranding. Just two days after the initiative was announced, I already had a new hat, shirt, journal, sticker, and water bottle with the redesign on it. University officials are definitely excited.
The same cannot be said of the students. A recent Boston Globe article about the rebranding has been circulating a bit on my social media, and many students were appalled at the reported cost of the rebranding: $1.5 million.
Why should students be excited for this? Once the free loot is gone, it does absolutely nothing to improve our experience or the quality of time spent at that university.
Does anyone else remember when Dunkin’ Donuts was renamed Dunkin’ in 2018? Yeah… that’s kind of what it does. Lots of unnecessary expenses.
I was sitting in class at McCormack when I read that the rebranding cost $1.5 million. I couldn’t help but stare at the wall right in front of me which is completely collapsing. It’s more of a hole than a wall. Walked past two broken water fountains to the bathroom and found a few lights not working. Also, the mirror was cracked. After returning to class and trying to resume taking notes, I realized that the unreliable internet had, once again, crashed. And then later when I left campus, I walked past HOW MANY doors in the middle of campus that have been “out of service” for most of that year.
I’m not saying this campus has to be absolutely spotless and running perfectly before the university can devote any money or attention to branding. But maybe they could focus on fixing some of the problems that have been around for years before spending a mind-boggling amount of money on a rebrand that didn’t really need to happen.
Can we talk about the new commercial for a second? Slate Casting has issued an open call to UMass Boston students for a chance to appear in the new commercial. In February, The Mass Media covered a conversation with one of the business coordinators and its impact on students. But in none of the emails or correspondence did the university mention that the ad was going to be used in a $1.5 million rebranding initiative. I feel like they had plenty of opportunities to share with the students what was going on, even without messing up the rebranding plan. I just believe that an initiative with such a high price should have been discussed with the students at some point before announcing it to the public.
Plus, the library is heavily advertised, for good reason. I love the Healey Library; I think it’s a great resource and a great place to study. It’s also incredibly cool – those spiral stairs in the middle of the stacks? Big fan.
But let’s be honest for a second. How many of us used the library as much this year as in previous years? I know I don’t go there anymore. It is painful to go there because of the construction. Going from Campus Center to the library means going past Wheatley, through McCormack, through Quinn to the second level, then back over the catwalk to Healey. It’s loot. I might be more inclined to make the trip if Starbucks coffee was still there, but it’s been absent all year. The library just isn’t a convenient place to be on campus anymore. The campus itself is not convenient to navigate. But none of the interior elements of the campus (read: the ugly parts) are shown in the ad.
I also want to mention the dormitory used in the ad. Let me be clear – I lived in the UMass Boston dorms my freshman year. I have lots of friends who have lived in the dorms for the past four years and I know lots of AR. And we all agree: this dormitory in the commercial is do not a regular UMass Boston dorm. I find it fascinating that an advertisement devoted to praising the university and convincing people to come here uses a fake dormitory! This really raises two big questions for me. First, what is this room? Did they create a fake room for the set, or did they go to another accommodation? Second, how will it be for incoming students who have seen the advertisement when they find out that their dorm room looks nothing like what they were advertised to do? In my opinion, UMass Boston dorms are pretty cool, especially compared to other dorms in Boston. I really have no idea why they wouldn’t have just used one of the dorms on campus.
With the fake dorms and hidden construction, imagine the shock a potential student will have when they come for a ride. Talk about false advertising.
One thing that I find slightly convenient is that the university has also just announced a tuition hike for next year. The UMass system said the tuition increase is “necessary to maintain academic excellence…and to provide students with the facilities and services they need and deserve.” Most UMass Boston students will face a tuition increase of around 2.5%.
Nothing has been said by the university or any sources that suggest or confirm that the tuition increase is caused by this rebranding campaign. As a student with the same amount of information as everyone else, I am not in a position to make any complaints either. But I find it interesting and worth mentioning.
I’m just confused as to why UMass Boston would spend that amount of money to rename the university when it’s currently torn apart due to construction. How can you rename something that’s barely halfway through being rebuilt? Seems preventative to me.
Finally, I would like to mention the requests of the Department of African Studies regarding this new rebranding. In the new advertisement and press releases, Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco repeatedly speaks about how our university has “an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion” and how “we are proud to be the most diverse college campus in New England and the third most diverse in the nation.
If so, why is the Department of African Studies facing such cutbacks and restrictions on its success? According to their grievance sheet, it is stated that the department has gone from seven to 1.5 full-time tenure-track faculty from 2017 to 2022. They have had many difficulties with their search committees for new faculty members. , including committee rejections, dissolution, lack of inclusion, inaction, and complete research cancellation. As the grievance sheet says, no other department at this university has been subjected to such discriminatory actions. The department is understaffed and ignored by the university.
How can Suárez-Orozco use the university’s diversity as a selling point to attract new students while actively ignoring the plight of one of our diverse departments? It’s hypocritical.
Congratulations to the university for the new rebranding initiative. But as a fourth year student at this university who is witnessing the collapse of our campus infrastructure, I think the effort should have been made to fix what is broken on this campus instead of promote a false image.