Editorial: Funds should be used for education

In its new policy, California State University decided to try to eliminate alcohol abuse among students. The new restrictions, adopted Wednesday by the nation’s largest university system, will ban naming student events after alcohol products, including sponsorship of activities held off campus by student organizations.

The new plan will also reward student groups that raise money from sources other than alcohol companies and will also direct limited funds to developing early-prevention and treatment programs and notifying students of alcohol law changes. Banning the sponsorship from alcoholic beverage companies will not stop students from drinking.

It is a noble effort that the university is choosing to focus on the problem. However, the plan needs to focus more on its other directives, such as the early intervention and treatment programs, and notifying students of changes in alcohol laws. The plan’s creators seem to assume that if students are exposed to less alcohol advertising they will drink less.

This assumption is foolish. The plan should instead take an example from the Florida settlement against tobacco, where billions of dollars from tobacco companies is being used to fund education about tobacco. The money from the alcohol sponsorship could be used the same way.

CSU currently doesn’t have funding for alcohol education and the $1.1 million set aside by the university’s trustees is a good starting point. But the focus for the initiative needs to be on education, then work on prevention, not a false belief that eliminating sponsorship will deter students from drinking.

The university banning the sponsorship is not going to teach students about the problems of alcohol abuse, CSU should instead find ways to fund education.