Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

The $60,000 Question: What’s the Deal with Those Message Boards’

The $60,000 Question: What’s the Deal with Those Message Boards?

By Matthew Reilein

If you could spend $60,000 on anything to improve Georgetown, what would it be? Electronic message boards, of course. Apparently, the number of fliers on campus is inversely proportional to the quality of education that the university can provide. The Provost’s Office, the university department charged with maintaining academic excellence at Georgetown, decided to combat this problem by installing eight LED message boards around the campus.

Oh, you haven’t noticed them? That’s a shock. The fact is, even if you have seen them, I am sure that you have not stopped to stare at them long enough to read each of the messages. But if you had, you would quickly realize that about half of the events listed happened last week. There are hardly any entries, and they are already having difficulty keeping up with events. Moreover, most of the fliers on campus are for things that I am sure the University Office of Communications would not bother itself with typing into the message board database.

Think about it: There are probably at least a hundred different fliers in circulation at any given time. To even make a sizable dent in the number of fliers on campus that means that there would have to be 25 messages programmed into each board. No one, I mean no one, is going to take the time to read 25 messages. Most importantly, everyone who wants to reach Georgetown students realizes this and will continue to put up fliers regardless.

I put up a fair amount of fliers for various clubs, but someone forgot to give me the memo on how to get a message onto these fantastic message boards. After about an hour of being bounced around from office to office and assistant to assistant in the Office of Communications (how ironic is that?), I was informed that my event did not qualify to be on the boards. It was not a university-sponsored program, I was told. Obviously, that must mean that students are not interested in it. I was not promoting some radical political group; rather, I wanted to tell students about a holiday ball being sponsored by a student-run corporation. While it is not an official university body, it is an integral part of the campus, just as number of other organizations are.

This whole problem stemmed from too many fliers cluttering up our campus. They were destroying the atmosphere. Now, instead of pieces of paper that can be easily removed, we have permanent, large, ugly message boards beautifying everywhere from Red Square to Leavey. Additionally, instead of having chipped paint on the lampposts, we now have large Plexiglas wings that are so much more attractive. Just the other day, I saw three university employees repairing one of these wings for over an hour. Now that’s cost effective.

In theory, these signs are a wonderful idea, but in practice they are bordering on failure. Now that wouldn’t be a big deal if they had only cost a couple hundred dollars, but $60,000 is one year’s tuition for three students. Georgetown University, the same one that is so strapped for cash that it is being forced to raise enrollment, deemed it necessary to its future to spend money on virtually useless message boards. I find it hard to believe that the university will ever make up that money.

Nevertheless, they justify it by saying it costs more to repaint the lampposts. They must have hired Van Gogh to repaint them. We already employ a full-time maintenance crew, and $60,000 worth of paint will outlast any message board. These wonders of modern technology will not last forever, and I am quite sure that it costs more money to replace a message board than it does to have fliers taken down every few days.

Just ask any student leader what they could do with $60,000 and I am sure you would be far more impressed with their ideas than the message board in Red Square. Ask a librarian how many books could be bought or Student Financial Services how many more students could afford to come to Georgetown. Or ask the editors of The Anthem how many times they could print with one-twelfth of that. aybe the Senior Class Committee could actually have a budget, or students wouldn’t have to pay their own fees at debate conferences if the university was just a bit more fiscally responsible. That $60,000 in the hands of students would have done a great deal more good for the community than those glowing red lights ever will.

Matthew Reilein is a senior in the School of Foreign Service and a member of the board of directors of The Hoya.

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