As Will Lutz, Managing Editor of The Lone Star Report said, “Bill Powers selling water to provide affordable education is like an arsonist joining the volunteer fire department to put out a fire he started.” Sadly, this has been the story of the entire bureaucratic machine at the University of Texas at Austin.
As reported on the UT’s website, the university partnered with the Austin-based advertising firm GSD&M to create H2Orange®, purified water sold in a UT Tower-shaped plastic bottle with proceeds going to fund “academic scholarships, fellowships and internships.” The university claims that this will bring in millions to help fund education (and God knows there will be plenty of Texas-Exes and current students alike ready and waiting to buy another piece of UT merchandise).
On the surface it sure sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? There are plenty of thirty students and alumni around, proceeds go to education, and Bill Powers looks like a miser scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to make ends meet in lieu of upcoming budget cuts.
What UT isn’t telling you is how many millions of dollars the university throws away at ridiculous programs such as “The Office of Diversity and Community Engagement” or the “Gender and Sexuality Center”. The Vice-President of the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, Dr. Gregory Vincent, made $287,250 in 2007, compared to other state employees like Rick Perry, Greg Abbott, and Susan Combs who made only $150,000 in 2007 respectively. Even as high as tuition is at UT now, $287,250 can sure fund a lot of scholarships.
But academia isn’t they only place where the university needs to make some cuts. UT can give the taxpayer a break for once and cut its ties with Cap Metro over it’s shuttle bus service. Instead of throwing millions of dollars of student’s tuition away on a shuttle service run so poorly that students often won’t bother with it, why look to a private sector solution?
Imagine a system where you as a UT student can simply pay for one semester’s right to use the shuttle at the same time you pay your (lower) tuition. With the same technology used already for regular Cap-Metro buses, all that would be needed is for the student to swipe their UT ID card to get on the bus. And a 25 cent or 50 cent fee for a one-time use seems reasonable if they don’t plan on using it every day. Students who walk to class, or are already paying for a spot in one of UT’s parking garages, would save tremendously. A private company would be able to save everyone money as well by having the flexibility to adjust shuttle routes to avoid wasting resources on a bus filled with 2 passengers at all times.
Long story short, there is a multitude of ways to improve UT’s financial situation sitting in front of Bill Powers that doesn’t involve marketing gimmicks. I’m sure he’ll consider all of them sitting right next to that UT water-bottle on his desk.