Cal State Campuses Seek OK to Display Alcohol Ads Anywhere on Campus

Eight California State University campuses as well as St. Mary's College of California, are sponsors of AB 840, a bill authored by Democratic Assemblymember Dawn Addis that will let the universities sell space to alcohol advertisers in stadiums and event centers. The universities are pushing for this in a scrounge for funding.

In testimony before the California Senate Governmental Operations Committee, Cal Poly Assistant VP of Strategic Business Services Dru Zackmeyer noted that "operating budgets are always tight. Sponsorships with local alcoholic beverage suppliers and manufacturers based in part on advertising opportunities… provide hundreds of thousands of discretionary dollars."

The California Assembly Appropriations Committee, however, said yearly revenue would be "…potentially in the low millions of dollars annually."

The measure is opposed by Alcohol Justice and other antialcohol groups in California which noted that  among other sites on campus, the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center would be a beneficiary of these ads, and would in turn spend that new money to "allow 12,000 K through 12 students to experience live educational arts performances."

Cruz Avila, executive director of Alcohol Justice, said this amounts to marketing alcohol to middle schoolers so you can maintain a facility to market alcohol to middle schools.

Avila said the industry committed to advertising only in media where more than 28.4% of the audience was underage. The underage CSU population is 40%, he said.

Avila noted that 40% of the CSU system is under 21, and said exposure to alcohol ads increases the intention to drink and the likelihood of binge drinking.  "Alcohol consumption in college is associated with a range of concerns, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism. Aside from simple academic problems as a consequence of drinking, collegiate alcohol use is associate with legal problems, violent assault, and sexual assault. In the worst case, alcohol can become a killer," Alcohol Justice said.

Comment: State colleges wouldn't be "scrounging" for money if state legislatures properly funded them.  But that ended in the 1970s.