“I don’t understand,” said Primrose Whiteglove after seeing this billboard (pictured at right) on her way home to La Jolla from lunch at the University Club. “‘Yo soy’? Is the President of SDSU hawking some kind of college-branded soy sauce? How distastefully commercial. But I hear they’re attempting some sort of grubby land-grab down in Mission Valley, so I suppose it’s all of a piece. Gone are the days, it seems, when institutions of higher learning stood for something more high-minded. And what sort of name is ‘de la Torre,’ anyway?”
This November, San Diego State University is hoping that voters will approve a ballot measure allowing the school to expand its campus into Mission Valley. To help achieve this end, it has launched the “I am SDSU” campaign, intended to “affirm the dynamic synergy between SDSU and the San Diego region and the pride of students, faculty, and alumni with strong connections to the university.” But the high-concept campaign is already scrambling to recover from a disastrous first step.
“Our intention was to show San Diego that SDSU reflects and connects with the entire community,” said embarrassed SDSU director of pandering Marvin Toady, “so that the entire community would feel comfortable voting for our ballot initiative come November. So we prepared a series of regionally targeted billboards designed to demonstrate the broad range of diversity here, from Asian-American scientists, to African-American athletes, to Latin-American Lantinx Studies professors. But somewhere along the way, someone must have slipped up on the spreadsheet, because the billboards all ended up in the wrong regions. For instance, the Martin Luther King Jr. freeway was supposed to get SDSU basketball standout and current Toronto Raptor Kawhi Leonard. But instead, they wound up with Gregory Peck — who was supposed to be on the 5 near La Jolla — and Leonard got put up along the 52 headed toward Santee. And La Jolla got President Adela de la Torre, who was supposed to be on the 805 as it pushed toward Chula Vista. In every case, the impression proved…less than ideal.”
In at least one instance, Toady’s assessment proved correct. “Gregory Peck? Didn’t he play that racist dude in that old movie?” asked Lincoln High School senior Mavis Davis after seeing Peck’s SDSU billboard. It seemed that Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch in the film To Kill a Mockingbird no longer carried the same meaning as it once did, after the recent publication of Mockingbird author Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, which portrayed Finch as a less virtuous, even problematic character. “I may have to vote against the initiative just to help get those fools woke.”