Michigan Proposes To Ban Liquor Industry from College Activities
LANSING, Mich. (AP) _ Michigan proposes to ban beer and liquor makers and distributors from sponsoring any college events either on or off campus, in what industry spokesmen say would be the first statewide policy of its kind.
″It’s an effort doomed to futility,″ says Tom Coyne, a Western Michigan University vice president who said individual schools should regulate alcohol promotions, such as those for dances, road races and concerts.
Those who oppose the proposed regulation say keeping college campuses untainted by liquor promotions is impossible when the alcoholic beverage industry advertises in newspapers and magazines and on television.
And students are none too happy about the plan, their leaders say.
″I realize there’s a drinking problem and a drunk driving problem. ... I just don’t think these regulations are the right ways to go about enforcing the law,″ said Rocky Beckett, executive director of Michigan State’s undergraduate student government and president of the Michigan Collegiate Coalition.
The coalition, representing student governments of the state’s 15 four-year public institutions, passed a resolution April 20 opposing the regulation, Beckett said.
The state Liquor Control Commission occasionally shelves ideas ″and nothing is ever heard from them again,‴ said commission aide Daniel Sparks.
But the promotions ban, currently in the public comment period, is likely to come before the commission by June, he said. ″I have an idea they will go ahead with it, but I’m not certain.″
The rule, which would affect all two- and four-year schools, makes sense, Sparks said, because many Michigan college students are too young to legally drink in a state where the legal drinking age is 21.
″It’s ludicrous to promote these things for people who can’t legally drink,″ he said. ″Our concern is when everything is associated with beer.″
Brewry spokesmen say the ban would be the first statewide regulation and the nation’s most restrictive on promotions at campuses. Some Michigan schools already have adopted less restrictive policies on promotions.
The Miller Brewing Co. agrees with Coyne that the state shouldn’t regulate its activities on campuses.
″We will abide by what schools tell us they want and don’t want on college campuses. ... We think the schools ought to have the authority to regulate these activities,″ says Miller lobbyist Thomas Reed. ″We do oppose the prohibition on our constitutional rights.″
″Much of our campus activity is related to alcohol awareness,″ said Anne Treacy, Miller college coordinator. ″It is critical for college and university administrators to have control over activities on their campuses.″
Anheuser-Busch Inc. also opposes any new restriction on its ability ″to responsibly advertise our products to any person of legal drinking age,″ said spokesman Mark Boranyak.
But the Michigan Council on Alcohol Problems says the state has a unique opportunity to set a national standard by banning liquor industry involvement in college activities, said the Rev. Allen Rice, council executive director.
″It should not be the playground for alcohol use,″ said Rice.
The proposal hasn’t drawn fire from stores that sell alcohol near Michigan State University.
″I think I would be more concerned if I was a small brewery or a small liquor company,″ said Rich McCarius, manager of Tom’s Party Store and Wine Shop. ″If they ever hope to catch the leader in sales, this certainly isn’t going to help them.″
Brewer promotions generally affect sales only of a particular brand and not total sales, said Ted Terzian, owner of Oade’s Party Store and two other liquor shops near the university.
″It’s going to hurt the actual manufacturer more than it would hurt me,″ Terzian said.