A local alcohol awareness group, bars and the Collegian advertising department agreed Tuesday to revamp ad campaigns featuring booze specials to reduce appeal to freshmen and underage students.
The meeting, held at Washington’s Sports Bar and Grill in Fort Collins, focused primarily on how the advertising of alcohol affects underage students after a recent newsletter from Responsible Alcohol Retailers (RAR), a national coalition of bars and restaurants, discouraged local retailers from advertising in the Collegian.
“They (freshmen) may start to think that if there’s a big party with kegs, they want to get in on that,” said Dawn Nannina, a representative of TEAM Fort Collins, one of the alcohol awareness groups that attended the meeting.
Of the students who enrolled at CSU in fall 2006, 46 percent were minors, according to a study conducted by the university.
TEAM Fort Collins and the university are working to prevent alcohol promotion from reaching freshmen using funds from a $260,000 U.S. Department of Education grant CSU received earlier this year.
The newsletter, which went out to local RAR members, implied that most students at CSU aren’t of legal drinking age and suggested that local businesses should advertise with other publications like Fort Collins’ Rocky Mountain Chronicle.
But the Chronicle and several local publications are just as available on campus, Jeff Browne, director of CSU’s Student Media, pointed out in the meeting.
Members of RAR at the meeting said they wanted to start a more responsible advertising campaign in the Collegian focusing on food items, not placing advertisements for 2-for-1 drink specials and including underage drinking warnings, such as slogans like Coors’ “21 means 21” campaign.
“I will probably go to more responsible advertisements,” said Shane Belcher, owner of Washington’s Sports Bar and Grill.
Belcher says that his establishment takes underage drinking very seriously.
“We’ve taken the most fake IDs of any establishment in Fort Collins,” he said. “One of our bouncers has taken over 200 IDs.”
Belcher said he wants to make his establishment even safer by putting advertisements in the Collegian that are more responsible.
Richard Paulson, bar manager for Suite 152, a popular underage club, said that he wants to focus advertising in the Collegian on 18-and-over nights and not advertise drink specials.
“We can advertise 18-and-over events as dances and not a place to go get smashed,” Paulson said.
And representatives from the Collegian agreed that alcohol should be represented less aggressively in the publication but also stressed the paper’s reach into the of-age student population.
The Board of Student Communications, the group that oversees Student Media, has a policy that content and ads should “avoid encouraging destructive behavior to oneself or others, or encourage participation in illegal behavior .”
But Collegian Editor in Chief J. David McSwane, who has the authority to approve and pull ads from the paper, said advertising alcohol in the Collegian shouldn’t be a huge concern.
“Drinking is a big part of the college experience for some students, but I truly doubt that any ads in our paper contribute to such a large issue as underage drinking,” McSwane said.
Senior reporter Aaron Hedge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org