GUEST LETTER: UA trademark licensing policy negatively affects student clubs
The UA Concrete Canoe team is an ASUA club that provides students the opportunity to improve their professional skills.
Club officers of the many University of Arizona recognized clubs were surprised this winter by a new policy that began Jan. 1, 2019. The new policy states that every club that desires to produce club shirts for its members must now go through the UA Bookstore’s Direct to Campus program for all club shirt orders. This policy was imposed with the intention “to provide student groups very clear direction about the use of UA trademarks while limiting the number of required reviews and revisions”.
The program limits our ability to order shirts from the vendors we know and have worked with in the past to the 12 approved vendors associated with the university. Trademark licensing is also required of all school clubs, demanding a 15 percent commission on top of the wholesale price. Clubs cannot even put “Arizona” on their shirts without licensing because the university has trademarked our state’s name.
I am the captain of the UA Concrete Canoe team. Every year, the civil engineering students come together and learn how to make a canoe made of concrete light enough to float but also strong enough to support the load of four rowers. We take the canoe to a massive conference of over 1,000 civil engineering students and race it against 17 other universities. Every team likes to show off their school pride with creative shirt designs as everyone cheers on their row crews.
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In years past, we’ve created fun, stylized UA shirts for our team members to wear and keep to remember the project. We also generously provided shirts to anyone who helped us make the canoe, including material vendors, machine shop operators and anyone who gave us support throughout the year. The new t-shirt policy imposed this year has made this tradition impossible to maintain. The canoe team depends entirely on donations and fundraising efforts to afford to give everyone a nice shirt, and these new policies are forcing a decline in school spirit.
We all love our school and would like to show off to all the other engineering programs how great UA is, but this year we just can't afford to pay 15 percent commission. The cost of having a shirt with our school name or any associated logo is simply too high for our team to afford. For the first time, we will go to the conference with a shirt that will not display anything associated with the University of Arizona.
We are an ASUA official club and are a staple of the civil engineering student tradition. Our club provides students with a place to develop their professional skills while also forming life long friendships. We urge the university to reconsider this policy for its official clubs, so we can continue to promote the university through our club endeavors.
David Klebosky is the captain of the UA Concrete Canoe team