Just submitted to my university's opinion website:
Many a criticism of universities starts with something like "You'd think a university...", so much so that it's a bit of a joke, but here goes.
You'd think that a university would be committed to things like ensuring a cleaner environment and enabling its employees and students to do the same. You'd think that would go double for an institution with an entire faculty devoted to Environmental Sciences. Apparently, you'd be wrong.
A co-worker of mine car-pools to work from another city with up to 4 other people in the car. To even things out, they rotate vehicles. So far so good. From the point of view of Parking Services, however, they must represent a loss of income, not sensible environmentalism and fiscal responsibility. They are still required to each get a parking pass at full price for their individual vehicles, despite the fact that it is people like them that allow PS to oversubscribe their lots and make still more money off the available spots.
I understand the importance of the revenue stream that selling parking spots represents to the university. But in a city where it seems that summer days mean smog alerts almost as often as not, it seems to me that Waterloo could lead the way in this sort of thing rather than simply maintaining the status quo. It's still worse when the university seems determined to put a building over top of every parking lot while simultaneously expanding the number of people on campus.
People like my co-worker could be -- and are -- helping the university out in this respect, and are getting nothing in return, even when getting something would cost the institution nothing at all.
Some afterthoughts: No matter where you are in your organization, no matter what you do, you are also marketing. You are marketing yourself, and you are marketing your department. When my co-worker gets told "we never thought of that, and are unlikely to consider it," what he's really being told is really "I'm sorry you feel that way, now please go away and let me go back to what I consider to be my real job."
If you sit at a public-facing desk, you're a marketer. If you respond to email from people outside your department, you're a marketer. If you answer your telephone, you're a marketer. If you tell the people who spend their valuable time to try to contact you that they should go away -- either explicitly or through your actions -- you're doing a poor marketing job, and those people will wonder why your department exists. I shouldn't have to say that's not a good situation in which to find yourself.