The University of California system announced last week that it’s considering banning its employees from using sharing economy services like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft. Such a ban would be counter to the U.C. system’s role as a global leader in fostering new technologies and inspiring digital advances. It would prevent the U.C. from the benefits of the sharing economy, increase costs, and choose entrenched industries over the innovation and competition that has become the hallmark of California’s economy.
“…Sharing economy companies offer consumers more choices that often cost less than comparable services offered by traditional vendors. As the cost of a college education continues to increase and academic departments are asked to do more with less, we should be encouraging U.C. employees to choose options that save money for taxpayers. Prohibiting U.C. employees from using services that cost less is simply bad for the University’s bottom line.
“This decision also sends an unfortunate message to U.C. students, faculty and countless Californians who are striving to create the next generation of innovative businesses and technologies. For decades, the University of California has encouraged its students and faculty to explore new ideas and challenge the status quo. This should be more than an academic concept. A University that is focused on the future and committed to fostering new technologies should not work against innovators and entrepreneurs…”
Given the digital trends born from California’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, citizens and policymakers based in the Golden State are frequently the first to grapple with the intersection of technological innovation and its effects on society. So, instead of banning employees from the use of a new and exciting segment of our economy, the U.C. system should embrace the sharing economy and the companies that provide consumer choice and cost savings that benefit the University system and its employees.