The Onion Pilot Program isn’t funny

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October 24, 2008

1:30 PM

Comedy is great. I love levity as much as the next guy or girl. However, I don’t think that the whole school should subsidize my desire to laugh more. That is just what the Student Assembly is attempting to do with the Onion Pilot Program sponsored by Sen. Ben Brown ’11. Not only is this wasteful and frivolous, it is also just maddeningly stupid.

The SA does some good work — the Save a Professor Bill and the AED Act come to mind but the Onion Pilot Program is certainly not one of them. This bill provides The Onion — a satirical faux newspaper — to the student body for a $760 test run of eight weeks. After the trial subscription expires, the bill’s sponsor is charged with gauging whether students would like the SA to purchase full subscriptions with allocations from the consolidated reserve. Spending one cent of our money on this project is a gross misappropriation of funds.

The SA has a responsibility to be judicious stewards of our money and this program is an insult to the role. Speaking for myself, I am an out-of-state student, so I spend quite a good deal of money to attend this fine institution and when I think that my money — that I am taking out loans to cover — is going to pay for jokes, it infuriates me. We do not need more frivolous expenditures at the students’ expense. I don’t know if the SA has heard, but the state of Virginia is in a financial crisis and we here at the College are facing budget cuts. Just recently the tuition for out-of-state students increased by more than $1,000 per semester. Surely there are more pressing issues and better ways to spend our money than this unnecessary program.
What is even the point of this program? Is there is a drought of satire that is easily accessed by the student body? I find this argument wanting when things like “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report” and even, yes, The Onion (excluding city-specific print only content) are free online. We are paying for something that we can mostly get for free. That is insane. We don’t even have to leave our rooms or put on clothes to get it — just type, click and enjoy. Students should be upset that they are being taken for a ride by the carnies running the SA.

If the SA cannot think of better ways to spend our money than this, then they should give it back to us in the form of rebate at the end of the semester. I’m sure we can find a use for it (being broke college students) on basics like food, books or clothes. We can even, if we like, buy The Onion or the parody paper of our fancies. But the SA has decided that they know how to spend our money best and have failed miserably because they are paying for free things.

The SA has only passed 12 bills from Inauguration last April to late September and this gem made the cut. I hate to see the ones that didn’t make it; the acquisition of magic beans or the purchasing of more air come to mind. P.T. Barnum said that there was a sucker born every minute; well I guess some of them found a home on the SA. Unless we stop this foolish and ill-conceived program and demand accountability from the SA, we are all going to be taken advantage of.

Alexander Powell is a junior at the College.

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