As most of my readers know, I am not a reporter; I was not a journalism major in college and I most certainly do not write with elegance. The majority of my posts are about music and very rarely do I have anything negative to say; my philosophy for Swag Sold Separately has always been ‘If I don’t like it and if I don’t have anything good to say, I am not writing about it’. Well, today that changes.
I am an incredibly proud alumni of the University of New Hampshire which is located in the southern ‘Seacoast’ portion of the Granite State; but this weekend I became an extremely frustrated, disappointed, and embarrassed alumnus. I know for a fact that I am not the only one who shares this sentiment and am fortunate enough to have this platform to write my thoughts, concerns and feelings on this topic, so I am going to utilize it.
Last year the University of New Hampshire announced that they were going to change their primary non-athletic logo and had hired the firm Chermayeff Geismar & Haviv out of New York City to create the new design for the University. When the plans were first unveiled in May CBS Boston reported that ‘The anticipated price tag being paid to Chermayeff & Geismer & Haviv, the New York firm which came up with the logo choices, is between $91,400 and $108,200.‘. This week, a leading paper in New Hampshire, The Union Leader, reported that the price tag was closer to $65,000.
The Union Leader report is more recent and may be one hundred percent accurate but there was no explanation where they derived that number from. While there is a significant difference between $100,000 and $65,000, I think the fact that they were willing to pay either price is an absolute slap in the face to the University and its students. UNH has been recognized as the ‘3rd most expensive University for in state tuition‘ by the Huffington Post in 2011, with a total tuition of $15,250; only trailing Penn State ($15,984) and Pitt ($16,132). Additionally, in a study done in 2012 by Project On Student Debt, New Hampshire ranked second among all states in both total amount of graduated debt on average ($32,698) and over all percentage of all students graduating with some form of debt (74%).
While you can’t blame the prior two accounts solely on the University, what we can blame them for is blatant negligence of over spending and having a complete misconstrued idea of what the ’21st Century’ is. In the same CBS Boston story referenced above, UNH Marketing professor Catherine Blake stated the following, “Change is difficult for people…A new logo can bring energy to the institution. We’re really bringing UNH into the 21st century.” To the credit of Blake, she may have not seen the initial designs before commenting; we can only hope this is the case.
So lets talk about the ’21st Century’. The 21st Century started 13 years ago, glad we are finally starting to think about joining the party. The 21st century is about technology, innovation, being green, and more importantly, the 21st century is about young people coming up with creative ideas, art, sounds, technology, and businesses that change the world from their basement, their dorm, their parents living room, etc. The 21st Century is NOT about spending what most would consider a solid year’s salary on a two color crest with two letters.
Even if this new logo was incredibly creative, loved by students past and present and had people lined outside Hayden Sports in Durham waiting to get their hands on new UNH gear, this would still be incredibly negligent on the University of New Hampshire for over spending. I know five people without much thought that could have not only designed this but would have come up with something incredibly creative for under $1,000 dollars.
BUT WAIT Mr Upset Alum! What about all the market research that was done by the hired firm to ‘develop’ this magnificent piece of revolutionary art?
Seriously, what about it? You want Market Research? Here’s some market research for you – Create a contest for UNH Students, past and present, to create the new logo for the university. The winner will receive up to a $15,000 prize; if a current student wins, the prize money will be applied to tuition, if the winner is an alumni, the winnings will go towards their student debt. Once all submissions are received, create a vote online where fans, students, alumni, parents, babies, dogs, cats and anyone else with a smartphone or computer can vote and tell you what they like best. Maybe I am crazy, or maybe I am just smarter than the people running my Alma Mater?
I understand the need for change, the old logo was a representation of the University of New Hampshire – Durham and UNH has expanded beyond one campus over the years. It one hundred percent makes sense to update the logo to something that reflects all of the institutions under the UNH tree, but not at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars for a dated logo that could have been created in a high school graphics art class.
What UNH should do is: First, apologize to students past and current, second, acknowledge their mistake and their complete disregard for overspending, then third, they should ask the many talented students both past and present to help rectify this situation. Because I know this will not happen what I am prepared to do is to run a contest of my own; I challenge UNH Students, past or present who want to submit a creative logo or design by January 1st. All designs will be voted on by fans, students, alumni, etc and we will print T shirts with the winning design. Thus, showing the University what being in the 21st century is actually about; believing in the young and talented individuals that have been educated at the place that so many of us called home for four years (or five for some of us).