An advertisement outside of Fresno State’s Henry Madden Library suggesting students to donate plasma if they are in financial need. University English professor Randa Jarrar tweeted criticism for the advertisement on Nov. 29, 2017. Photo courtesy of Jarrar’s Twitter account.
An advertisement in front of the Fresno State Henry Madden Library drew criticism last week from one professor who said it went too far. The ad was later taken down.
It began when Fresno State English professor Randa Jarrar tweeted a photo on Nov. 29 of an ad suggesting to students who are in need of money to donate plasma.
“Bank account low? No Worries. Donate plasma,” a portion of the ad reads.
Donating plasma involves removing blood from a donor’s arm, according to Grifols, the advertised company’s website. Plasma, as described by the company, is the “liquid portion of your blood.”
“It contains important proteins that are responsible for vital functions such as helping your blood clot and defending your body against infections,” according to the website. It also says plasma is “quickly” and “easily” restored to a donor’s body.
“Please help keep our campus free of dangerous solutions to our students’ financial troubles,” she said in the tweet, tagging Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro.
It’s unknown how many others on campus thought the ad was offensive. But its criticism from the professor was elevated when a campus official responded.
In a reply to the tweet, Deborah Adishian-Astone, vice president for administrative services, said the vendor will be asked to remove the advertisement. It was unclear if the ad violated any rules.
Adishian-Astone suggested Associated Students Inc. be reached for comment on the ad. Gina De Young, communications assistant for ASI, told The Collegian the ad was put up over the holiday break by a third party kiosk vendor.
“It’s up to the company’s discretion to decide what ads they display,” De Young said.
ASI President Blake Zante also responded on social media saying the ad would be taken down.
Grifols director of public affairs Vlasta Hakes responded to The Collegian by email and stated: “We realize that this advertisement may not effectively highlight our mission of helping save lives with the Fresno State community, and we are working with the vendor to swiftly replace it.”
The company, however, acknowledged the good the Fresno State community has done when donating blood plasma.
“Thanks to the plasma donations made by [Fresno State] students and others in the Fresno community, patients are able to live healthier and more fulfilled lives,” Hakes said.
Betsy Hays, public relations professor and future chair of the department of media, communications and journalism, said it is always good when consumers critically evaluate public messages. Advertisers, she said, should want to be ethical in their advertising.
“I love it when people use critical thinking and evaluate messages,” Hays said. “As consumers that’s really one of our jobs. We shouldn’t passively receive messages – we should actively be seeking them.”
With the plasma donations ad at the university, Hays believes there are two messages being conveyed. First: it’s a way to make money. Second: it is potentially a way to help people.
But, since the ad is calling for a medical procedure, Hays said that the advertisement should have disclosed that it is asking consumers to undergo a medical procedure.
Said Hays: “Language that reminds people to educate themselves whenever they choose to do something with their bodies feels like that would be a responsible addition.”
Professor Jarrar did not comment further on her concerns.
Staff writer Razmik Cañas contributed to this story.