By this point I imagine everyone has noticed our new ad-campaign. The catchy green and white slogans scattered around the city are difficult to miss. This highly visible “Higher Standard Advertising Campaign” attempts to spread USF’s “commitment to academic excellence, a culture of service, and a passion for social justice, as well as its deep ties to the city of San Francisco.” As students we are supposed to be proud of the new advertisements that are scattered around the city; instead I find myself disappointed, for one of the few times in the last four years, in how our University is representing itself.
The three “differentiating” factors of USF are supposedly academic rigor, commitment to social justice and “the longstanding links to San Francisco’s innovative spirit.” However when our ads claim, “Academic standards higher than Haight Ashbury in the 60s”, this link to San Francisco’s innovative spirit is broken.
Haight-Ashbury was a Mecca for the counter-culture of the 1960’s. It had significant faults, but it was an original, provocative, and re-configured society. Priding itself on being inclusive and embracing different ways of thinking, the movement attempted to envision new ways of organizing political, economic and social structures—ways that were more equitable. The Haight-Ashbury model played a large role in shaping community services and activist communities here in San Francisco today (communities the University regards itself as being connected to).
I was further disheartened to see “Learn to run a multinational corporation and still go to heaven” made the cut as an appropriate slogan. Multinational corporations are notorious for seeking the lowest tax burden, the cheapest labor, and the loosest environmental standards. These corporations in instances have revenues that exceed some countries’ GDP’s. Criticism of these multinational corporations is ubiquitous; it has been discussed in almost every class I have at USF from sociology, performing arts, politics, to math and rhetoric. Nevertheless, our new campaign promotes the idea that USF students support multinational corporations. Instead of being critical of them, we want to run them and still be guaranteed our spot in heaven.
Isn’t our education supposed to be about expanding outside the classroom? About questioning the integrity and social responsibility of corporations? This campaign may make our University’s name more recognizable, but at a cost. It is disappointing to see that our advertising and marketing department has co-opted our ideology as a University to promote aspects of this school that do not align with our values and mission.