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OnDitmagazine ― Features

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flights, low-fee bank accounts, two-for-ones and 10-percent-offs with them. Maloney sees the trend as worrying. “In the last two years neither Telstra nor Optus have been on campus. That’s amazing. Ten years ago, Telstra and Optus would sponsor O’Week, and now they’ve withdrawn from campus. Where’s the Optus or Telstra deal for students now? They’ve gone.” What of the effect of voluntary student unionism, recent bane of Australian student organisations? Leanne Bruno thinks that sponsorship is more important post-VSU because of funding cuts, but Andrew Maloney notes that the promotion on-campus and in student papers has dropped dramatically as few student organisations can afford a full-time marketing manager. Ultimately this is a double blow, and as a result there are far fewer events for students. The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Melbourne has its O’Week completely run by university administration. As the Adelaide University Union has both an Events Coordinator, and a Marketing Manager, campus culture has suffered less, but no organisation can go from having a budget of $9 million to $1.2 million and provide the same level of service to its members. Sponsorship, then, provides part of the backbone of services to students. Without it, campus culture would be a shadow of what it is now. However, such reliance on external parties with vested interests comes at a price. One problem is that having an event sponsored by one product tends to preclude student choice. If your major sponsor is Red Bull or Carlton Draught, you don’t want to tread on any toes by allowing V or Coopers on-site at the same time. Furthermore, developing an event with marketing in mind can significantly change the tone of things, or at least the activities that are on offer. This year there will be no free barbeque, as it draws too much focus from other activities, limiting advertising exposure. Paying a dollar for sausages might still be a pretty good deal (and

the money supports the clubs who volunteer to cook them), but one can’t help but feel like students have lost out. Another troubling aspect of acquiescing to sponsors could conceivably be a compromise of student media independence. While it might seem like a far cry to suggest that On Dit could manage to uncover a web of deceit and dodgy dealings perpetrated by a sponsor, and then be forced to suppress it, it would be a shame if people couldn’t speak frankly. The care taken in this article to only talk about Union sponsors in the abstract is a case in point. However, ultimately marketing on campus provides positive outcomes for students. This isn’t to say that constant branding isn’t annoying, but it is at worst a necessary evil, particularly in a post-VSU world. Marketing off-campus is perhaps a thornier issue. The recent debate surrounding advertising junk food to children raises concerns that marketing may be contributing to serious health problems (small wonder that marketing tobacco products has been illegal in Australia since 1992). Nevertheless, despite the notorious excesses of national or global corporatism, campus marketing appears to be mostly benign. Without it, students wouldn’t have the anything like the range of events and services currently available on campus. And hey, at least you got that free drink.

about the writer

Sam Deere is rumoured to be studying politics and have shadowy connections to the SRC/Student Media underworld.

On Dit Magazine: Volume 78, Issue 1  

On Dit Magazine is a fortnightly Australian student magazine with an emphasis on exceptional writing, photography, and illustration.

On Dit Magazine: Volume 78, Issue 1  

On Dit Magazine is a fortnightly Australian student magazine with an emphasis on exceptional writing, photography, and illustration.