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T-shirts not best use of student fee

Nov. 10, 2005

by JON SCHROEDER, columnist

So you're telling me some people have AIDS. No way.

In Zimbabwe, no less. While some Baylor students might not know whether that's in Europe or Asia -- it's in Africa -- most of us know someone over there is HIV positive.

Now, student government members want to do something about it. They voted to allocate $1,300 for AIDS awareness shirts.

Campaign members want to make 2,600 shirts. That's roughly 20 percent of the Baylor student population.

The 2,600 students are supposed to wear the shirts Dec. 2 to represent the people of Zimbabwe, 20 percent of whom are HIV positive.

Student Global AIDS Campaign members asked student government members for $1,300 to help produce the shirts.

The vote passed 24-6 in Student Congress, with four abstaining and nine not present.

One person took a stand. Student Body President Mark Laymon used his veto for the first time this year to block the bill. He doesn't think most students want their tuition dollars spent buying shirts to wear for a day.

I applaud his action.

I hope Student Congress members will take a harder look at future bills as a result.

Campaign members want to charge students $2 for each shirt. Student Life Fund dollars will subsidize another 50 cents of the cost per shirt with the $1,300 allocation if Student Congress members overturn Laymon's veto. They could, by a two-thirds vote today.

Perhaps Student Global AIDS Campaign members will sell all 2,600 shirts. They want to make the shirts affordable.

But will a 50-cent discount impact their sales? I don't think many students will see the shirts and say, "Two-fifty? That's pricey. I'd buy one if they were just $2." Campaign members have almost a month to sell 2,600 students shirts. I don't think that's possible.

I have nothing against AIDS awareness. I'm glad that concerned, socially responsible students like those running the AIDS campaign go to Baylor. I want to buy a shirt, even if it sets me back $2.50. But the Student Life Fund comes directly from students' fees, and student money shouldn't be spent on AIDS awareness.

Student Global AIDS Campaign is committed to the fight against AIDS. Couldn't they put their efforts into something with more tangible results?

Jon Schroeder is a junior journalism major from Arvada, Colo.