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Memorial University bans beer sponsorship

by Archives October 28, 2008

ST. JOHN’S (CUP) – The kegs of free and cheap beer came to a drip as administration at Memorial University ended residence dependency on sponsorship and donations from breweries in St. John’s, N.L.
Christine Burke, director of Housing, Food, and Conference Services at Memorial, says that the decision came after a review of similar sponsorships at other Canadian campuses across the nation, which found that no other university allowed endorsements by alcohol companies.
Due to changes to residence eligibility requirements implemented last year, as of this September, 64 per cent of those students living on campus were underage.
In an e-mail sent to the Muse, Burke indicated that this information, combined with a number of behavioural reports, acted as the basis for the ban.
“Last year we saw significant changes with regards to behaviour of our first-year students in residence that could be attributed to drinking. As a result, we put our heads together to determine the best way to deal with this,” said Burke.
“We changed the ratio of first-year and senior students last year. With that, we had challenges last year that we didn’t have before. We had people who had behaviours that were not acceptable.”
Burke acknowledges the fact that campus residences benefit in other ways from brewery endorsements.
Noting that sponsors sometimes offered money or other monetary mechanisms for house events or charity fundraisers, she suggests that Housing’s contribution to on-campus life should cover all residence needs.
She also says that each house on campus receives $1,000 per term, and another $1,000 for a damage deposit refund. Also, Housing has a fund for each house to make major purchases, like big screen TVs, gaming consoles, and lounging sets.
In addition to this, Burke notes that this year Housing paid 50 per cent of what it cost each house to make their orientation house shirts, and have also increased resident assistant and proctor spending to $100 per house event.
Burke says the beer company sponsors didn’t like the idea, but they understood Housing’s reasoning given that so many students are now underage.
“I met with the district managers and VPs from the breweries. I can’t say they liked the idea, however, they realized that we were being too diligent, and given that the ratio had changed so much in just a year . . . technically their sponsorship should only pertain to the 30 odd per cent who are actually of age.”
Mishelle LeClerc, a first-year student living on campus, disagrees with the move.
“[Housing] knows that college students or university students are on a budget, they’re not all rich, and that the all love to party. It’s just a given. And then [Housing] goes and takes away stuff like a dollar a beer. That deal is awesome for someone who doesn’t have $15, you know?” said LeClerc.
“Now we have to go off and get a taxi, go all the way to the liquor store, and spend a whole bunch of money on alcohol when they could have gotten it for half price. Students are still going to drink, it’s just going to cost us a lot more.”
Burke says that there will be repercussions for any house found dealing with alcohol sponsorships under the new guidelines.

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