May 15th, 2023, 09:00 AM

The Tragedy of AUP's Missing Merch

By Sara Crawford
A screenshot of the AUP merchandise website.
AUP is missing a key part of an American universities infrastructure: merch.

A quintessential and somewhat iconic part of being a college student is school merchandise. However that core part of university does not apply to all schools…or at least ours. In most American colleges, there will be entire rooms dedicated to selling merch of all kinds: baseball caps, workout clothes, engraved pens and of course the classic crewneck sweatshirt, all bearing the university's logo. Maybe it is because we go to school in Paris where “athleisure” is a thing to be scoffed at, or maybe it is because we lack the typical bookstore space and aesthetically designed hoodies. I’m assuming the latter. 

The lack of school merch that students can conveniently buy on a cold day, parents can sport to the grocery store and first years can be decked out in reflects upon the culture of AUP. We go to class, maybe get a snack at AMEX and then carry on with the rest of our lives all over the city. If AUP were to put more effort into their sweatshirts, T-shirts, coffee cups and even umbrellas, I believe that it could help boost school spirit and morale, a common wish among the student body.

In a very enthusiastic tone, AUP student Sophia Laforest exclaimed her disappointment in this situation: “I am devastated, this sounds sarcastic but I’m being honest. I wish there was a place where I could go when feeling school spirity. My mom is pissed too, she just wants a bumper sticker or something!” 

Even worse than this sentiment, we have students here at AUP that do not even know the school sells merch! “I guess I could say I don’t have an opinion and that’s almost worse. Do we even have merch? Where do we buy it?” said first year Gloria Kabongo.

Above is a photo of student designed merchandise that recently was being sold at AUP. (Image credit: Sarah Cronin)

Due to the fact that there is not a good place to buy sweatshirts or even stickers, some AUP students recently decided to take it into their own hands for the time being with the hopes of redesigning the official university merchandise. 

AUP student Annalisa Cabral-Sanchez is a member of the Student Government Merch Committee and helped lead the production of the merch shown in the picture above.

"The Student Government Merch Committee is tasked with creating limited Edition Merchandise each year that reflects the wider student body's ideas and what they want to see from school merch," said Cabral-Sanchez.

"There was a high demand for new merch that reflected the energy of AUP’s largest student body to date on campus. Myself and our Graduate Communications Director Melody Gray led the committee together on a year long project of the pop-up store in late April.  It was clear students were looking for something more classic and something that looks like it came straight off an American Ivy campus. A huge contribution is thanks to Lilly Mildenberger who gave us the phenomenal design you see on our new sweatshirts. This year's merch hoped to take on AUP’s American roots and create something timeless that speaks to the taste of college students. We are fortunate to also be donating all the proceeds made in our merch pop-up to UNICEF in Ukraine."

These sweatshirts were designed by students independently from the AUP administration and nearly sold out during the pop-up store. "The general consensus was that people were excited to see merch at school and not just online, it was nice to see people have school spirit," added Cabral-Sanchez.

Now the question is, if AUP were to put a greater effort into producing merchandise, where would they sell all of it? Well, for starters we really do have a bookstore inside of the PL building. It is small, but there is an entire back sitting area in that building that goes virtually unused. If the school could figure out how to convert that space into a legitimate bookstore I believe more students, alumni and parents would love to purchase items with AUP's logo on it.

When asked her opinion on the lack of good school merchandise, student Madeline Eslinger stated, “My high school does this thing where we buy our colleges merch for announcement day, however when I was going to buy mine I had to go through a very obscure website and buy a non-collegiate looking sweatshirt. It just looks weird.” 

This is not to say that we do not already have school merch, which can be accessed through the website I’m sure many full time students bought at least a sweatshirt for their decision day when they were seniors in high school. However the designs and accessibility inhibit us from wanting more than that too-small high school sweatshirt. Truly I believe that having good school merch would help encourage a sense of community among the student body, and for fulltime students at AUP it would be greatly appreciated.