Open Mouth, Insert Foot

The University of Texas has a real PR problem. First with KUT, then with the Cactus Café, they haven’t been able to settle on a single cogent story to justify their actions to a riled-up community. They only open their mouths to change feet. The stories keep morphing about who’s in charge, who is “The Decider” here, whose fault this debacle is. All the while, they keep floating new ideas, like the new value menu at a fast food joint — it’s cheap and easy.

Realistically, they should have just come out and said “because we damn well feel like it.” Or, “We don’t like them damn hippie types.” Or something a little closer to the truth anyway. It doesn’t fly to always pawn things off with a simplistic, “It’s for you little people.” C’mon, guys. In a “world-class” university with its own communications school about to build a $12 million spankin’-new building to occupy . . . you don’t have PR people to make it all sound good? The first time? Maybe you shoulda used the high-powered PR firm KUT employed to scrub its public face, however clumsily.

The biggest perception UT has to face is that it ain’t about the money. $60,000 is chump change at Big State U — if that’s what it really is. How many of the vaunted sports programs besides football make money? How much money do they make off all the archives of famous dead guys? And on and on. The bidness of UT is still bidness, and the hubris of the suits is bigger than all of Texas. Let’s call a spade a spade. Cue Mary Gordon Spence: “How’s that artsy, culture-y thing workin’ for ya?”


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