The student society at the University of British Columbia recently unveiled a new logo as part of a $20,000 initiative to rebrand the organization ahead of the unveiling of a new Student Union Building. The Alma Mater Society hired local design company Glasfurd & Walker, which modified their current logo, what looked like a setting sun, so that it now resembles a hole where a bullet has punched through metal. The accidental gun reference caused a mini-controversy.
Violent connotations aside, I think the real controversy is the wasted $8,000 (the logo’s portion of re-branding costs). After speaking with students on campus, it turns out they too are more upset about the money.
Trisha Barnard is one of them. “Logos are not that big of a deal,” says the third-year chemistry and biochemistry student. “I don’t really know what goes into designing a logo but I’m sure there are better uses [for the money] out there.”
Jan Drohn, a fourth-year philosophy and economics student, is also lukewarm. “I don’t really care about logos,” he says. “Something that actually benefits students,” he adds, would be better use of the money.
Both Barnard and Drohn approved of the design but agreed that holding a campus-wide contest with a small cash prize would have been a more democratic and financially sound plan.
In my opinion, it’s just another example of the AMS spending small fortunes on fancy initiatives. Too often, overzealous executives’ dream projects falter due to insufficient funds. In the past, they have maintained the financially unsustainable student-owned ski and snowboard retreat Whistler Lodge and even spent money consulting about the potential for a student-run brewery.
AMS representatives also sat on the steering committee that approved the $46-million Public Realm Plan, which includes over-the-top features like the water fountain on University Boulevard.
The new Student Union Building is the AMS’s latest potential misadventure. Originally set to open in Sept. 2014, it now faces the possibility of going over budget and being delayed until 2015. The proposed indoor playground slides—yes slides—budgeted at a $50,000, are also in jeopardy.
Do we really need breweries, ski lodges and slides? Projects like these make UBC aesthetically pleasing and cool but are of little use to the average student who, in the end, is paying the bill. If the AMS really wants to win the hearts and minds of students, the executives ought to focus more on improving student life and fostering school spirit than diving head first into grandiose projects.