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Evans: The battle against prohibitionists

BY BENJAMIN EVANS | SEPTEMBER 06, 2012 6:30 AM

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I always like to pick a favorite stump catch phrase during election season. It makes for a good drinking game during a long convention keynote. But my favorite ridiculous stump isn’t Mitt Romney’s “you didn’t build that,” or President Obama’s implications that if Romney fires a person, he or she will die: It’s UI President Sally Mason’s “I’m not a prohibitionist.”

I know, amazing, right? She’s not even running. But every time she responds to a question about the UI’s stance on alcohol abuse by saying her and her husband are not “prohibitionists,” I have a temptation to throw back a swig of Templeton rye. “We’re not prohibitionists,” she said in an interview with The Daily Iowan in late August. “I joke with my husband that I probably drink three beers a year, but I am not against drinking. I am not against alcohol consumption.”

My only real question is concerning the existence of prohibitionists. Is there really an epidemic of prohibitionist ideals in the Iowa City area? Is the city all of the sudden going to prohibit alcohol? I mean, yeah, obviously there are people who are not going to drink because of religion or personal choices, but is there a huge threat to the sanctity of alcohol in this city?

I know Mason isn’t a threat to alcohol. But she still feels the need to remind us that she is not trying to ban alcohol.

“I believe that our stance on alcohol consumption has been very consistent,” said the president at the Presidential Committee on Athletics on Aug. 30. “We’re not prohibitionists. We’re not against alcohol consumption.” There it is again — that line. Who is calling Mason a prohibitionist? I’m certainly not: I would never call a president of a university, with a student body bent on binge drinking, pimping out its logo to a beer company a prohibitionist.

Maybe, these invisible naysayers would point to Mason’s response to the first round of Anheuser-Busch’s use of the Tigerhawk logo. You know, the posters that had both a Bud Light can and UI’s classic logo next to it.

The beer company was criticized by the current UI administration on Aug. 30 for putting up these posters, and the administration was hesitant about Busch putting the Tigerhawk on certain Anheuser-Busch posters. But wait a second, Mason. Just hold up there. What is wrong with these posters? Didn’t you say in an official statement that “the possible use of the Tigerhawk logo be accompanied by the phrase ‘Responsibility Matters’ is consistent with our alcohol-harm-reduction initiative”?

And wasn’t one of the major components of this deal with Busch to allow the use of the Tigerhawk logo alongside beer logos? Oh, I think so. So, why take the posters down? Are you a prohibitionist?   

“We’re not prohibitionists; we are simply making some very solid statements about how you behave if you’re going to be first of all, an adult and consume alcohol in a responsible way,” Mason said in an interview with The Daily Iowan. OK, so let me get this straight: Mason is not a prohibitionist, because she supports people behaving in a responsible manner whilst drinking; Mason is not a prohibitionist, because she is allowing students the opportunity to be responsible whilst Busch is advertising beer logos along side the Tigerhawk symbol.

But when the posters are up and the beer is flowing, she is all-of-the-sudden against the marketing strategy? It seems like someone has cold feet. It can’t be because of UI’s recent jump in the party-school rankings, can it?

No way, because all we really know in this debacle resembling a Billy Bob Shakespeare play is that President Sally Mason is not a prohibitionist.


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