Queen’s University might auction off the naming rights of the Queen’s Centre, meaning the student complex would be named after the highest—likely corporate—bidder.
The University has become increasingly corporate in recent years and it’s no surprise that it may come down to efforts to corporatize the University’s biggest and most recognized student hub.
Tearing down such endearing centres as the Jock Harty Arena to build a mega-space with a generic corporate name is, like this year’s decision to drop the ‘golden’ from the Gaels, another attack on familiar Queen’s traditions.
Although the University hasn’t yet decided to put the Queen’s Centre on the auctioneer’s block, selling off naming rights might be a necessary action to save the financially troubled construction project, espeically because Phase One is already $41 million over budget.
Queen’s should consider what type of image it wants to convey before giving naming rights to any bidder. Some corporations have a history of questionable business practices from which Queen’s might want to distance itself.
The University should also consider separating the enormous student complex into different sections, which can carry corporate names without having to name the entire project after one corporation.
Ryerson University’s communications centre, which houses the journalism and radio and television arts programs, is named after its sponsor, media conglomerate Rogers Communications Inc.; the building might not have the same impact if named after a bank.
It would make sense to seek out corporations whose business activities relate to the section of the Queen’s Centre they would be sponsoring.
Many campus buildings were named after notable alumni and donors, and it’s important that at least part of the Queen’s Centre carries on the legacy of the University’s important women and men.
Giving more recognition to individual sponsors might take some of the edge off corporate branding.
University trustees should be prepared to settle for nothing less than a sponsor willing to share its name recognition with longstanding Queen’s traditions; otherwise, the University might have to bid auction plans goodbye.
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