Editorial: Failcopter: UCR spends limited funds on a flying camera

Brandy Coats/HIGHLANDER
Brandy Coats/HIGHLANDER

The UC system has managed to obtain the reputation of being money-hungry with the phrase “Let there be money” instead of the original motto of “Let there be light.” The UC system sparked an uproar when the Chief Marketing Officer attempted to change its logo to sell themselves to “moneyed elites.” Apparently the backlash did not discourage UC Riverside as it went on it’s own publicity stunt last week.  If you didn’t see it, the Octocopter flew over campus last Thursday, taking snapshots from an aerial perspective. The eight-armed monstrosity was UC Riverside’s latest attempt to grasp a different perspective of UCR, revealing the beauty of the UCR campus to prospective students, potential professors and future sponsors.

Even though tuition has increased from previous years, UCR is still attempting to grab more money by raising its profile with its latest gimmick: the Octocopter. Funnily enough, the increased tuition demanded by the school has been more than enough to cover the budget cuts imposed by the state. It’s encouraging to know that our money has been put to use by flying a pointless camera around the school.

It should be noted that UC Riverside strives to showcase the efforts that have been made in renovating the school. However, this gimmick that UC Riverside is using to portray the campus in a “better” light will not benefit current students.

Although the contraption was an interesting sight to see, the Octocopter “spectacle” only lasted a span of five hours — hardly a long-lasting investment. Current students have been placed on the backburner when it comes to UCR’s gimmicks in advertising. When UCR tries to promote the school, the funds are pushed toward people that don’t even attend the institution. In the overall realm of things the Octocopter doesn’t really harm students’ financial situation, but it is money that could have been used toward our academics.

The Octocopter was borrowed from Phoenix Photography for $3,000. The idea behind the Octocopter is to gain a perspective of campus to raise UCR’s profile.

The cost of the Octocopter was slightly less than one student’s cost of attending UCR for a quarter. It would be nice if that student could actually see the money placed somewhere else, like back in their pockets. The $3,000 can be used to do something that would benefit the current student body. The fact of the matter is that this Octocopter has highlighted the question as to how UC Riverside is spending its money in the first place.

Recently a group of students from the UCR’s engineering department created a smog-cutting device to place on lawnmowers. UCR is known for its research so it seems only fitting that the school would want to allocate its money toward more projects such as this. Providing more money towards research grants is the right way to go because it will give current students more of an opportunity to exercise the skills that are taught through the UC curriculum. UCR would be able to create an even more respectable reputation if it strengthens its undergraduate research program by distributing more funds to student-led projects.

The money could have even placed into a scholarship for current students. Students still struggle to pay for an education so the school should really consider allocating the money spent for ridiculous rooftop photos for a scholarship instead. It’s frivolous that the school is spending money on more pictures and footage when it should be bolstering its reputation by helping the students. If the UC campus desires more faculty to come here then it shouldn’t be boasting about how the campus looks from the sky but what the institution can actually provide to its students.

The point of the matter is not that UCR shouldn’t be spending money but the fact that the money being spent is not for students. The Octocopter cost $3,000 for two days and it was only used for taking the footage of the school. According to Christie Zwicke, member of the Office of Strategic Communications, the purpose of the footage is to produce a film that will display the campus from a “whole different perspective” as opposed to “from the ground, from a camera crane or from a traditional helicopter.”

I don’t think anyone should tell her about the satellite view from Google Maps that does the same exact thing — for free. On top of this “innovative” way of taking pictures, more money will need to be put into the production of the film along with the costs of promoting the film to future students, faculty and sponsors.

The Octocopter came and left. Using that money for something that would actually stay on campus would be much more ideal. For instance, the funds and effort into building a monument that all current students and visitors can gaze upon would hit two birds with one stone. Such a monument would add to UCR’s aesthetics and create more of an appeal for everyone to see. Not only would students and faculty be able to enjoy it, but UCR would be able to display something that students in the future can also view on their way to class years later. Something more tangible than video from an Octocopter might actually give benefits to the UC campus and would be a better option for the money.

What’s most frustrating is the fact that tuition has already been raised to cover costs, but promotional gimmicks like the Octocopter are only being used to bring in even more sponsors and money. UCR needs to stop focusing on gimmicks like the Octocopter and instead implement real structural change to benefit the current students of UCR.

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