A cold Friday night. Thousands of TU students, parents and fans are living it up and pretending that tomorrow’s disappointment is not an inevitability. But before we could light up the giant bonfire and make the surrounding trees nervous, President Brad Carson had a few words to share. Plus a bunch of numbers to share as well.
He took to the stage with a well-practiced delivery of a list of statistics. (Our sources were unable to confirm nor deny whether Carson’s daily morning ritual involves reciting these numbers to himself in a mirror.) He is certainly very proud of his numbers, or else they wouldn’t be shoved in our faces on every single lamp post around campus. The university, of course, should be proud of our stats. Not every school can be both in the top 10 for engineering schools and be ranked #12 for top engineering schools. (Funnily enough, there are no banners on lamp posts praising our mathematics department).
However, it seems that Carson and the university’s executive team feel that there’s room for improvement in what numbers we advertise. The university recently invested in banners proclaiming TU as having the most National Merit Scholars of any university in the nation (per capita of course, though the font size selected for that part of the banner indicates that you aren’t supposed to notice that part). The university has not issued a statement on the correlation between their National Merit Scholar statistics and “percentage of freshmen not actually paying to go here” statistics. Another major investment was recently made for banners celebrating TU for having the largest Starbucks in Oklahoma, although the printing for that one got backed up in the computer lab along with the 273 students also trying to print.
Other numbers are on the way. According to expert student analysts, TU is climbing to the top of the ranks for amount of money spent on alcohol by a university. A new banner could explain why such a significant percentage of the school budget goes to supplying free alcohol at events. Yet not even free beer is sufficient to motivate enough people to go to a football tailgate in order to break the world record for largest beer tasting. That could likely be explained by another of the university’s statistics, with recent rankings from Athlon Sports and The Athletic placing The University of Tulsa at #125 in the 133 Division I college football teams. That one might not end up on a lamp post.
The university’s banner advertisements have also been a source of controversy. Multiple lamp posts advertise TU’s job placement guarantee, though students who have signed up for it report that the program only entails getting an email with the link to apply to McDonald’s. Furthermore, there was a large outcry when it was revealed that TU hired a large number of professors to teach classes to empty rooms with no students, in order to reduce the university’s average class size and student-to-faculty ratio. One of these professors, who chose to remain anonymous, stated that the experience was overall positive, since he didn’t have to deal with any questions and he still had the same number of people laughing at his jokes as normal. The Collegian reached out to more of these professors for comment, but they didn’t have time for an interview, claiming they were behind on grading.
Piles of statistics certainly help this school look good on paper. But let’s be honest, the only banners we need to show how great TU is are the ones that are just a picture of Goldie.