Student Government [SG] President Vance Aloupis fulfilled one of his seemingly unattainable campaign promises this year by bringing free, legal Napster music service to UM. After doing so, however, SG has utterly failed to promote and get the word out about Napster.
According to SG’s figures as of last week, only around 2,600 students have signed up for Napster at UM thus far, and it’s safe to say that the University paid for many more student subscriptions than that. UM has not disclosed its exact figures regarding the music service, but an article published in May in the Post, the student newspaper at Ohio State University [OSU], said that Napster offered OSU a discounted rate of $3 per month per student. If we extrapolate this figure to our University, $3 for 8,000 undergraduate students for a ten-month school year would mean that UM must have paid in the neighborhood of $200,000 for Napster.
UM has to pay this estimated amount regardless of the number of student subscriptions, which means that SG’s failure to promote the music service is costing UM a significant amount of money.
Furthermore, UM’s contract with Napster expires at the end of the school year, which means that students will lose the songs they have downloaded but not paid for. The contract may be renewed, but only if UM sees real student interest in Napster. At this point, it looks like those of us that have taken advantage of the service will have to bid farewell to our songs in May – or we’ll be asked to pay the monthly fee for the service out of our pockets.
The lack of subscriptions is by no means a criticism of Napster itself, since it has been a success at other universities that have the same agreement as UM does. The blame lies on SG’s poor campaign to advertise the service and inform students that it’s available to them.
SG has had almost two months to promote Napster, and it hasn’t done so. How much time does SG need to accomplish its goals?
SG advertised Napster during orientation, but the message may have only reached freshmen and OAs, and even then it may have gotten lost in the informational overload of the beginning of the year. Since then, little has been done to raise awareness of the program on campus.
Surely, some of the blame of the lack of subscriptions lies on the students that, whether as a result of apathy or short-term memory, did not read the Ibis News that told them how to download Napster. However, a significant portion of the student body is simply unaware that Napster is available to them, and that is SG’s fault.
It’s troubling that Aloupis, as head of SG and the chief person responsible for bringing Napster, hasn’t taken advantage of the largest campaign promise he has fulfilled. He hasn’t built on the momentum of this single achievement to carry out the rest of his plan, and his other campaign promises, like free laundry in the residential colleges and headphones in the machines at the Wellness Center, have failed to materialize.
If Aloupis wants his legacy at UM to be Napster, he has a lot of work left to do. In addition, if SG continues to be this invisible throughout the year, it will not be able to blame apathy in future SG elections on the students.
Now that SG has belatedly noticed its gaffe, we can expect a p.r. blitz promoting Napster to ensue in the upcoming weeks. However, this may prove to be too little, too late.