Any student who was on campus last week is highly familiar with UMass Boston’s new logo and slogan: “For the Times”. A two-day celebration held in the campus center, new flags along the roads, a colorful mural in Wheatley, a fresh website design and a lot of free promo swag are just some of the things the university has done to celebrate this rebranding. Just two days after the initiative was announced, I already had a new hat, shirt, journal, sticker and water bottle with the redesign on it. The university officials are definitely excited.

The same might not be said for the students. A recent Boston Globe article discussing the rebrand circulated on my social media for a bit, and many students were dismayed at the reported cost of this rebrand: $1.5 million.

Why should students be excited for this? Once the free swag is gone, it is doing absolutely nothing to improve our experience or quality of time at this university.

Does anyone else remember when Dunkin’ Donuts rebranded as just Dunkin’ back in 2018? Yeah…that’s kind of what this feels like. A lot of unnecessary spending.

I was sitting in class in McCormack when I read that the rebrand cost $1.5 million. I couldn’t help but look at the wall directly in front of me that is absolutely falling apart. It’s more hole than wall. I walked past two broken water fountains to the bathroom, and found that a couple of the lights weren’t working. Also, the mirror was cracked. After I went back to class and tried to resume taking notes, I realized that the unreliable internet had, once again, crashed. And then later, when I left campus, I walked past the HOW MANY doors in the campus center that have been “out of service” for the majority of this year.

I’m not saying that this campus needs to be absolutely flawless and perfectly functioning before the university can spend any money or attention on its branding. But maybe they could focus on fixing some of the issues that have been around for years before they spend a jaw-dropping amount of money on a rebrand that didn’t really need to happen.

Can we talk about the new commercial for a second? Slate Casting held an open call for UMass Boston students to get a chance to cameo in the new commercial. Back in February, The Mass Media covered a conversation with one of the commercial coordinators and how it would impact students. But in none of the emails or correspondence did the university mention that the commercial was going to be used in a $1.5 million rebranding initiative. I feel like they had numerous opportunities to share with the students that this was happening, even without spoiling the actual rebrand plan. I just believe that an initiative with this hefty a price tag should’ve been discussed with the students at some point before announcing it to the public.

Additionally, the library is heavily featured in the commercial, for good reason. I love the Healey Library; I think it’s a great resource and a conducive place to study. It’s also incredibly cool—those spiral staircases in the middle of the stacks? Big fan.

But let’s be honest for a second. How many of us have used the library as much this year as we have in past years? I know I don’t go there at all anymore. It’s a pain to get to because of construction. Going from the Campus Center to the library means going past Wheatley, cutting through McCormack, walking through Quinn to the second level and then backtracking through the catwalk to Healey. It is a haul. I might be more inclined to make the trek if the Starbucks café was still there, but that has been absent this entire year. The library is just not a convenient place to be on campus anymore. Campus itself is not convenient to navigate. But none of the interior bits of campus (read: the ugly parts) are shown in the commercial.

I also want to mention the dorm room used in the commercial. Let me be clear—I lived in the UMass Boston dorms my freshman year. I have many friends that have lived in the dorms over the past four years, and I know a lot of RAs. And we are all in agreement: that dorm in the commercial is not a regular UMass Boston dorm room. I find it fascinating that a commercial dedicated to praising the university and convincing people to attend here would use a fake dorm room! It really raises two big questions for me. First, what is that room? Did they create a fake room for the set, or did they go to a different housing facility? Secondly, how is it going to look to incoming students who saw the commercial when they find out that their dorm room is nothing like the one that was advertised to them? In my opinion, the UMass Boston dorms are pretty nice, especially in comparison to some other dormitories in Boston. I genuinely have no idea why they wouldn’t have just used one of the actual dorms on campus.

With the fake dorms and the hidden construction, imagine the shock a potential student will have when they come for a tour. Talk about false advertising.

One thing that I find mildly convenient is that the university also just announced a tuition hike for next year. The UMass System stated that the tuition increase is “necessary to sustain academic excellence…and provide students with the facilities and services they need and deserve.” Most UMass Boston students will face about a 2.5 percent increase in tuition.

There is nothing that has been said by the university or any sources that suggests or confirms that the tuition increase is caused by this rebrand campaign. As a student with the same amount of information as every other, I am not in a position to make any sort of claim either. But I do find it interesting and worth mentioning.

I am just confused as to why UMass Boston would spend this amount of money to rebrand the university when it is currently torn to pieces because of construction. How can you rebrand something that’s barely halfway through being rebuilt? Seems preemptive to me.

Finally, I would like to bring up the demands of the Africana Studies Department in regard to this new rebranding. In the new commercial, and in the press releases, Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco repeatedly talks about how our university has “an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion” and how “we are proud to be the most diverse university campus in New England and the third most diverse in the nation.”

If this is the case, why is the Africana Studies Department facing such steep budget cuts and restrictions to its success? Per their grievances sheet, it says that the department was cut from seven to 1.5 full-time tenure track faculty from 2017 to 2022. They’ve had numerous struggles with their search committees for new faculty members, including rejections to the committee, disbandment, lack of inclusion, inaction and a cancellation of the search entirely. As the grievances sheet says, no other department at this university has been subject to such discriminatory actions. The department is understaffed and ignored by the university.

How can Suárez-Orozco use the university’s diversity as a selling point to attract new students while actively ignoring the plight of one of our diverse departments? It is hypocritical.

Congratulations to the university for the new rebranding initiative. But as a fourth-year student at this university who is witnessing the crumbling of our campus’s infrastructure, I think the effort should’ve been made to repair what’s broken on this campus instead of promoting a false image of it.

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