WSGA gains new sign, big cost

New Sign, New Cost Washburn Student Government Association’s old sign stands shut down and unused. WSGA just passed a bill allowing the purchase of a new sign for $19,000.

Last Wednesday, Washburn Student Government Association senators passed a $19,000 bill that includes the purchasing and installation of a new electronic sign outside of Memorial Union.

Within the next 60 days, students will see the construction of the new sign begin.

Funding for the sign will be through WSGA’s reserve fund. The bill includes the cost of the sign, which is $15,000, as well as installation, refurbishing, software costs and the cost of running a new cable to the new sign. All of these expenses combine to create a total that is slightly less than  $19,000.  This means any additional costs have been built into the bill. The old sign was originally purchased for $30,000 and only functioned properly for four years.

“Ever since I have been a part of WSGA, we have been dealing with trying to replace the light bulbs, and they cost a lot of money because it’s an older sign, and we were just constantly putting money into it,” said Taylor McGown, president of WSGA.  

WSGA looked into fixing up the current sign but then decided it wasn’t practical.

“We were thinking ‘we’re going to put money into something that’s already outdated, so why don’t we just look into getting a new sign?'” said McGown.

Aside from expensive light bulbs burning out, the sign, which is only seven years old, started malfunctioning, and once Washburn updated their computer system to Windows 7, the sign quit working all together.

“It’s a great service for students, so we want to make sure it was used properly,” said McGown. “It was clear to WSGA that a new sign was needed.”

McGown said that Michael Kitowski, vice president of WSGA, was the most instrumental in researching electronic signs and getting the bill passed for the sign, a process that has taken six months.

“I looked at digital sign companies and digital sign products,” said Kitowski. “I looked at Dectronics, and I looked at Watchfire, and I compared the two. [I] learned about digital signs and the difference between 16-millimeter and 20-millimeter signs.”

Since the 16-millimeter sign has a higher resolution than the 20-millimeter, WSGA is going with the 16-millimeter.

“This is so when students walk by, they can still read it, versus if it were a 20 or 36-millimeter sign, it would have to be built way up in the air,” said Kitowski.  

He also looked up various warranties and met with individuals from sign companies.

WSGA put the plan up for bidding from companies and saw that the cost benefits were best from Watchfire through the All Signs Company.

The new electronic sign brings more options for advertising not only for Washburn’s organizations, but also for school functions and events and community organizations and events, as well.

“Instead of just seeing texts, students can see a colorful logo that will really catch eyes,” said Kitowski. “Another thing is that I really want to use it with the iSave program so that maybe we can have businesses do a deal of the week and announce it on the sign.”

He also stated that the sign can’t even begin to be measured in terms of its usefulness once installed.

“I think the benefits are almost endless,” said Kitowski. “It offers full color capability, so that can really make an announcement pop.”

In addition to the new sign, WSGA will also be updating the Washburn University crest above the sign and cleaning up the exterior structure.