Domestic Affairs

And now a word from your sponsor

By Patrick Mattimore (
Updated: 2011-05-26 10:12
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There is quite the brouhaha this week about the renaming of the Fourth Teaching Building at Tsinghua University. The new name is the Jeanswest Building in honor of the apparel manufacturer from Australia.

The general reaction on campus seems to be one of muted revulsion and one newspaper has reported that most students and lecturers said they cannot accept the name.

Let me add my voice to the minority chorus that thinks there is nothing wrong with a little newfangled capitalism here. In fact, it's a great idea! The folks at Jeanswest are reportedly going to be paying for maintenance of the building. They've agreed to replace broken equipment too. No word yet on whether there will be free jeans Saturdays as I've recommended, but who knows.

And now a word from your sponsor


The Jeanswest building name opens a world of commercial opportunities. I am planning to contact Pizza Hut, KFC, and McDonald's to see if they might like to put in dibs for the naming rights to my classroom (only while I'm in it, I suppose). Let's see, I would be willing to have a Colonel's Legal Corner or a Ronald McDonald endowed chair in exchange for a classroom set of new computers for my students.

How about a giant in-class billboard for Carrefour or a Bank of China ATM?

I'm also thinking that we need not stop at inanimate objects. My Chinese students adopt English-language names. Perhaps they would be willing to be called Slurpee or Big Mac in exchange for free books.

And that's just the beginning. Athletes wear tons of logos. Why not professors? We could endorse products from Adidas, Nike, and anyone else that would like to ship some new togs. Remember the old campaign to be like Mike? Well, now students will be able to look at me and think, "Gee, I could be just like Professor Pat." Or not.

I've always been a great admirer of Shakespeare, but I think that at least in this instance he got it wrong. In his famous dictum suggesting the irrelevance of names for objects like roses, he didn't understand that what's in a name is a great opportunity to make a buck.

Patrick Mattimore is an adjunct law instructor in the Tsinghua/Temple Law School LLM Program in Beijing.