Finding logic in market logic at the University (or not)

Christy Johnson and Christy Johnson

With every sip of Pepsi, bite of Wendy’s or football game attended, students, whether they like it or not, are playing into corporate influence at BGSU.

These influences are seen as good, bad or indifferent depending on student preferences, as well as moral and ethical viewpoints.

“I think corporate influence is good and bad. It’s good because whenever we have a sponsorship from a corporation it gives the University money, it’s bad in the sense that it limits our choices,” said Sarah Palumbo, senior.

Many students see corporate sponsorships given to athletic teams and organizations as positive, since student cost is cut down as a result.

“We have corporate sponsors for football, and hey, it pays the bills,” said Kyle Cutler, senior.

Students like Cutler agreed there is a definite need for corporate sponsorship, saying it helps defer the cost of tuition and keeps organizational and athletic fees low.

“I think that with sports teams corporate sponsorship is good because of money,” said Brittany Young, senior.

Students say there are financial benefits gained from corporate sponsorship, both for the University and the corporations.

“I am a Coke person, and I don’t like Pepsi products, to me that’s frustrating,” said Victoria Fastenau, senior. “However, I know organizations can get Pepsi grants, so I know its beneficial to organizations,” Fastenau said.

And while Fastenau and other students may yearn for a Coke at lunch time, most understand Pepsi simply paid to be the sole pop provider for BGSU.

“I can’t blame the University for that; it’s just the marketing system at work” said Anna Glett, a senior and economics student.

Marcus Rimboch, junior, said the lack of stores and products offered to students keep prices on books, T-shirts and food and drink prices up.

“You need to have some corporate competition to keep the prices down,” Rimboch said.

Having a more corporate campus could also improve student choice in products and services.

“I think it would benefit the student’s if the university was more corporate, I was kind of mad that we don’t have Coke products, and being more corporate would give us more options,” said John Stengel, senior.

The limitations of variety seen on campus go further than food and drink choices, it can be seen in the universities computer labs that are stocked with either Apple or Dell computers.

“It’s clear that the University has contracts with both Dell and Apple,” said Lauren Riehl, senior. “As students we can see that when we go into the labs on campus, and it is beneficial to the students, because we can get discounts through Dell and Apple.”

There are many factors that go into the selection of corporations that the University allows onto campus. The student need for products and services, the amount of money a corporation is willing to spend to be here and partnerships between corporations and the University are just a few.

“Student’s are a captured market,” said David McClough, instructor of economics.

A captured market means students, especially those living on campus, must spend money on meal plans that they can only spend on campus on products that corporations pay the University to sell here.

“The corporations bid for access to you,” McClough said.

Glett further explained the hold that corporations vying for space on campus have on dorm dwellers.

“Most on campus students have to put money on meal plans, and use those dollars on food they have on campus,” Glett said.

Corporations pump in money to the University, and the students pump money back into the corporations. What they are missing out on in this interaction is the opportunity for merchandise choice, she said.

“The most wonderful goal is offering them choice, the chance to choose,” said Ryan Eiben, an economics graduate student.

So would making the University more “corporate” benefit students? How?

“I would be interested to see how things would play out if the university got more corporate,” McClough said.