Busch contract will fund alcohol-free events


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University of Iowa President Sally Mason said the money provided to the UI from Anheuser-Busch could be used to fund Alcohol Alternative Nights and other sober events on campus.

The contract, which was renewed in June, allows the Tigerhawk logo to share space on products with Anheuser-Busch logos with the phrase “Responsibility Matters.”

University students and employees — particularly members of the Partnership for Alcohol Safety — believe the deal is counterproductive to the UI’s responsible drinking efforts and will only reinforce a party-school image.

“I think [Tom Rocklin] is going to use those dollars for Alcohol Alternative Nights that we have,” Mason said.

“…The contract has been in place for a long, long time. I’m not sure if it’s had much of an effect; I’m not sure if it will have much of an effect going forward.”

Tom Rocklin, the vice president for Student Life, was not available for comment Tuesday night.

The contract between Anheuser-Busch and Learfield Communications Inc. — the sports-marketing company hired to represent the Hawkeye Athletics Department — was renewed last month. The contract allows the Tigerhawk logo to share space on products with Anheuser-Busch logos so long as the “Responsibility Matters” phrase is present.

Kelly Bender, the UI campus-community harm-reduction initiatives coordinator, said officials have put together a variety of strategies to reduce high risk drinking among UI students with the 2010-2013 Alcohol-Harm-Reduction Plan. One of the many strategies includes sober events such as Alcohol Alternative Nights, in which the UI provides entertainment for students.

“Unfortunately, we have found that the high-risk drinking students are the most expensive [to get to events],” Bender said.

Bender also said the Anheuser-Busch funding would help put on the events at the level officials would like.

Big events have proven to be successful in the past. They are not the only option, Bender said.

“If that was the only thing, we wouldn’t have a shot,” she said.

Michael Currie, the president of the University of Iowa Student Government from 2009-2010, does not think people should be concerned where the funding for sober events comes from.

“If they do have utility, who cares where the money comes from,” he said. “And if they don’t, then why does anybody care where the money came from?”

Some have questioned why the UI would approve using the Tigerhawk logo on different forms of advertising, when in 2009 the university came out against fan cans — Bud Light cans emblazoned with the university’s black and gold colors, as well as other universities’ colors.

Mason said the company was never given permission from the university to advertise in that way.

“Nobody ever asked our permission; it was not a part of the arrangement, it was just done, and that’s what we objected to,” she said. “Had they asked our permission, would we have agreed to a new contract or something new like that? Probably not. It’s one thing to have an existing contract, something that has been in place for a long time that we know is working and that conforms to our safe, responsible, legal concern for things; and it’s another thing to go off on your own and do this without warning or permission.”

When the fan cans were introduced, Currie said, he did not see the cans influence students to drink more irresponsibly.

“They did them for [other universities],” he said. “I don’t think anyone who hadn’t already planned to drink bought them instead.”

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