Free service pays off

“And over here is the Oakland University Student Congress. You can get free Scantrons here.” Those words, or some variation of them, are uttered hundreds of times each year.

OUSC is now considering getting rid of its most notable initiative.

According to OUSC administrative assistant Christina Quigley, the Scantrons, available at Congress’s front desk, cost $2,500 a year. She also said she witnessed the sheets of paper being misused.

The discussion about discontinuing the free Scantron program was tabled at OUSC’s Nov. 1 general meeting. It will be decided on when OUSC finalizes its winter 2011 budget.

While it’s difficult to complain about the reasoning behind it, we think it’s a bad PR move for OUSC.

Remember that tour of Oakland University’s campus you trudged through? Perhaps you were just really hot as you made your way through a summer orientation session. Maybe your parents dragged you during junior or senior year of high school for a campus visit.

All sorts of information is thrown at new students, but the piece that sticks out the most is about the free Scantron giveaway. It’s included in the myriad of spiels given by orientation group leaders and admissions ambassadors. Even professors remind students of OUSC’s free perk.

For those who have not taken advantage of the program, Scantron sheets are provided for students who stop by the OUSC office at 62 Oakland Center in the basement of the OC. Even if the program is discontinued, Scantrons will still be available for free at Kresge Library’s circulation desk.

One might ask what the problem with OUSC’s nixing of the Scantron is.

The issue lies in the recognition of OUSC. As a self-admitted commuter campus, it’s difficult for students who commute to truly take advantage of other campus services offered by OUSC.

Scantrons are arguably the only thing every student can use and recognize OUSC for.  The charging station on the upper level of the OC is a great idea — its purpose is to provide students with a secure way to charge electronics — but it only caters to the rare student who both stays on campus and knows about it.

Unfortunately, most students equate Scantrons with OUSC while its other programs are more easily overlooked. Things like attendance at the Congress’ weekly meetings and using Bear Bus parking shuttle on weekdays don’t impact as many of the over 19,000 students on campus.

We’re not saying that students necessarily need this service, nor are they entitled to it. But it would behoove OUSC to continue offering it.

It’s a small price to pay for name recognition on campus as well as a way to bring students into the OUSC office.

The $2,500 OUSC spends on Scantrons pales in comparison to the $10,000 it committed to Kresge Café and the $10,348 it spent on its new outdoor initiative. And very few students realize they have OUSC to thank for them.

So while students will still be able to get free Scantrons elsewhere, OUSC’s notoriety will suffer if students can’t get them there.