Cal State University Chancellor Charles Reed has asked the presidents of the 23 campuses to examine the colleges' contracts with liquor companies to see if they can be broken or that the message can be changed to emphasize responsible drinking.
Reed made his comments at a news conference Thursday in Anaheim, where about 350 national college administrators gathered to learn the latest strategy to combat alcohol abuse on campus.
The National Conference on the Social Norms Model, sponsored by the Cal State system, says that scolding and threatening students doesn't work. Its recommended strategy emphasizes telling students that contrary to popular belief, most of their peers are not drinking to excess. The strategy, in essence, tells students to act like their friends because they're really acting more responsibly than you thought.
Reed said that when he headed the Florida state college system from 1985 through 1998, advertisements by companies producing alcoholic beverages were removed from campuses and athletic fields. There was no loss of money, he said, because soft-drink companies took the space.
Alcohol companies, mainly those selling beer, pay colleges to allow their signs on campus athletic facilities. They also sponsor some campus events.
Miller Brewing Co., for example, pays Cal State Fullerton $17,500 a year in advertising. That pays for a sign on the scoreboard in Titan Stadium, two signs on the baseball field and two advertisements in the programs for baseball, women's softball and men's and women's basketball. Those program ads include one for the product and one pushing responsible drinking, said Paula Selleck, a Cal State Fullerton spokeswoman.
The contract with Miller runs through 2005.
On July 11, the Cal State University trustees adopted some of the nation's most comprehensive guidelines on student drinking. The plan includes alcohol treatment programs, advisory boards and advertisements.
The university system began working on its new policy in December after a student at Chico State died of asphyxiation after downing a bottle of brandy, and two students at San Diego State nearly died from alcohol poisoning.
A UC Irvine spokesman said that campus has no alcohol advertising or sponsorships.