Students in Uproar Over Plan to Ban UCSD Beer Parties
Outraged student leaders at UC San Diego charge that “Big Brother” is behind a university administration proposal to bar beer companies from sponsoring student activities and to ban beer at outdoor campus events.
The university’s effort to cut down on beer and liquor on campus is in line with academic movements nationally but runs counter to the trend at other local colleges.
Chris Millich, a UCSD mathematics sophomore, is upset over the prospect of losing the weekly TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) celebrations sponsored by Miller Beer. Under the proposal, the Friday outdoor parties, which feature a live band and 15 kegs of beer, would be eliminated.
“They’re trying to turn it into a Pepsi party,” Millich said.
The students are “not too happy” with the proposed regulations, Marc Boroditsky, UCSD Associated Students president, said.
“What surprises me is that the university usually sets up a committee comprised of the various factions on campus,” Boroditsky said. “There was no consultation with students on this issue whatsoever.”
At the heart of the administration proposal is the premise that beer companies and other alcoholic beverage firms promote events that cause irresponsible and even illegal behavior among students. The proposal recommends that commercial sponsorship promoting the purchase and consumption of alcohol “or other psychoactive substances of a non-medical nature” be prohibited.
Joseph Watson, UCSD vice chancellor of undergraduate affairs, said on-campus drinking has been under scrutiny by an administration committee established four years ago to examine problems associated with alcohol on campus. The current proposal is the recommendation of one of its ad hoc committees.
“Some of our students abuse alcohol,” Watson said. “We don’t have a situation that is out of hand.”
The administration is seeking “extensive and vigorous discussion” of the proposal, he said, and will listen to what the students have to say before ruling out brew or breweries.
Watson stressed that the proposed regulation is open to revision and that a total ban on alcohol might result in some students breaking the rules.
UCSD’s proposal seems to be the product of a growing national trend. Beer ads have been banned from the student newspaper at the University of South Carolina and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is no longer accepting brewery offers to co-sponsor concerts. At Southern Illinois University, similar controversy has led to cancellation of the “Busch Shootout,” an annual basketball tournament backed by Anheuser-Busch last year to the tune of $40,000.
While UCSD proposes to clamp down on alcohol, leaders at other universities in San Diego appear satisfied with current policies which permit sales of beer and wine.
Stephen Barnes, assistant vice president of student affairs at San Diego State University, said SDSU’s drinking policies are not under review. Although distilled spirits are barred from campus, beer and wine are served in the student pub, Monty’s Den, and the Faculty-Staff Center.
In addition, drinking is allowed in the private dormitory rooms of students who are of legal drinking age--21 or older--and at special student functions where university approval has been granted.
“Alcohol has a presence on campus and in students’ lives, but it’s not been a problem,” Barnes said. He added that the university is concerned with promoting student education on alcohol. “We’re in the process of establishing a campus-wide committee on student substance abuse which will ask, ‘Are our policies adequate?’ and, ‘Do we provide students with enough education?’ ”
Barnes said he doubted that sports advertisements by beer companies promote alcohol consumption. Budweiser sponsors intramural sports at SDSU and runs its Bud Page once a week in the Daily Aztec, the SDSU school newspaper. The Bud Page advertises intramural sports and features a Bud Player of the Week.
According to Dan Cornthwaite, executive director of SDSU’s Associated Students, the group receives $50,000 annually from Miller Beer and Budweiser for intramural sports and events such as Comedy Night, Friday afternoon concerts, promotions for the Mission Bay Aquatic Center and Spring Fiesta, the annual SDSU carnival.
At the University of San Diego, drinking, once prohibited from all areas of campus, has recently been allowed in certain student housing centers. Tom Cosgrove, associate dean of student affairs, said USD decided to change its policy on drinking in response to student complaints that those students who are old enough to drink legally should be allowed to do so.
In response, drinking policies were changed last semester to allow students to drink in their rooms at the Valley Complex, which houses mainly upper classmen. Drinking also is now allowed at special student functions, providing advance university approval has been granted.
At United States International University, drinking is prohibited in all areas of campus, officials there reported.
Although UCSD’s proposed drinking regulations would ban drinking in public lounge areas of student dorms and apartments, alcohol would be allowed in students’ private quarters.
“When you eliminate alcohol from the dorms, students will go off-campus, get drunk and get into their cars to drive home,” Boroditsky said.
But, he added, “It has been the opinion of some administrators that we should become a dry campus.”
He said he received assurances from the administration that the Associated Students will be included in a forum discussion on the matter, and he said the Associated Students will formulate proposals to bring to the forum.
Before any restrictions can be enacted, the university’s conduct committee must amend the campus conduct codes and receive approval from the chancellor’s office. Any policy changes would go into effect July 1.
Ironically, several years ago, a previous UCSD chancellor called for increased campus social activities and, according to Boroditsky, even paid for the first TGIF celebration.
Any tightening of campus drinking regulations would put a damper on several large outdoor student social events at UCSD, such as Casino Night, the Fall Festival on the Green, the Sun God Festival and the annual over-the-line and volleyball tournaments which receive money and advertising from Budweiser and Miller Beer.
Burt Kobayashi, director of some of the recreation sports involved, said some of these campus social events may be destined for the chopping block if the university doesn’t come up with the money to replace that lost in a ban on beer company sponsorships.
If beer advertisements for campus events are abolished, the UCSD recreation department will lose $25,000 annually for intramural and intercollegiate events, he estimated. Some people argue that athletics and alcohol don’t mix, but the Olympics and the Super Bowl are sponsored heavily by beer companies, Kobayashi said.
“The problem is that alcohol abuse has been equated with sponsorship of (the student events),” Kobayashi said. “People can abuse even candy. That doesn’t mean we’re going to eliminate Snickers ads.”
He said that the UCSD recreation department will join other opponents of the proposed regulations and “carry our fight to the administration and let them know what our views are.”
Watson said if the proposal passes, money for student social events would have to come either from increased student fees or from non-alcoholic promotions.
“It’s discouraging that the only groups that seem to be willing to sponsor these events are beer companies,” Watson said. To replace the money lost from the alcoholic beverage industry, he said, UCSD will try to talk milk, bread and peanut butter companies into such sponsorships.