Complaints about student-made T-shirts leads to unfair criticism against student entrepreneurs.
Most universities would celebrate the fact that the pride of its students swelled so large that it broke the record for student attendance at last weekend’s football game against Penn State.
But Cherry and White officials were not entirely happy.
Temple Student Government Student Body President, Colin Saltry, said President Ann Weaver Hart’s office received a slew of complaints due to the approximate 700 students wearing a student-designed T-shirt that featured “We are” on the front and “F*** You!” on the back, comically referencing Penn State’s famous chant, “We Are…Penn State!” The back of the shirt pictured a graphic of an owl literally flipping the bird.
TSG is unfortunately discouraging students from buying the humorous shirts, striking at the core of Temple’s inspiring school spirit about obviously satirical T-shirts, which simply aim to provide a laughable and creative sense of Temple pride.
Sure, it’s a bit sophomoric. And, perhaps, it might be offensive to parents with young children, but the shirts aren’t malicious. The message captures the competitive atmosphere of a college football game.
To knock down a group of student entrepreneurs who are learning the actual hardships of starting a business–while bashing the creative expression that a liberal arts university should foster–undermines students’ college experiences and sends the wrong message. It’s no wonder why the commonwealth is cutting Temple’s appropriations—universities’ historic fundamentals of teaching students how to think, instead of what to think, is being compromised due to “sensitivity” issues. I know Oprah has been considering sending students from her Leadership Academy in South Africa to Temple, but I didn’t know she ran TSG.
Furthermore, in a city where the unemployment rate hovers around 11 percent and in a nation where businesses are shamelessly sitting on their money instead of spending it, it’s embarrassing as a student when the university or TSG would encourage an anti-student-business environment. Universities’ core values should be instilled in striving to teach students to think out-of-the-box, not to not think at all.
Students getting in trouble for making T-shirts that used the Temple “T” got alumnus Greg Gant in trouble last year when he, a senior at the time, sold “Thug Life” T-shirts to students. Gant also sold T-shirts to other colleges, barley making the money he put into the business.
“I don’t make that much money off it, and I could make more getting a job, but it’s cool to see my shirt all over campus. It’s cool to see your design and people enjoying it,” he told The Temple News last year.
Even if Gant stopped, people wearing his T-shirts are still seen walking around campus today.
Simple economics will tell anyone that if there is a need for a market, there will be a demand. So whether or not TSG pretends to not condone the shirts or the university speaks against the design, hilarious college T-shirts will continue to be worn on campus.
Matthew Petrillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.