Louisiana state legislator Cedric Glover has introduced a new Bill to stop the state’s public universities from licensing official alcoholic beverages, citing health, moral and religious concerns.
According to The Advocate, House Bill 610 will also end the contracts between local breweries with Louisiana State University (LSU) and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL-Lafayette) – the two schools that prompted Glover’s bill.
“Why would we have wanted to officially license, brand and tie an alcoholic beverage to a school?” Glover, a Democratic representative told The Advocate.
Glover said endorsing an “official beer” sends a conflicting message to students, given ongoing efforts to combat underage drinking and other problems stemming from alcohol abuse in college campuses.
“Deep in my heart, I just know it’s wrong for us as a state to allow a public university to put our official stamp of approval on an alcoholic beverage.”
For now, Tin Roof Brewing Co makes the official LSU beer “Bayou Bengal Lager”, while Bayou Teche Brewing brews UL-Lafayette’s Ragin’ Cajuns Genuine Louisiana Ale.
Fifteen percent of Bayou Bengal sales goes to LSU, a much-needed stream of revenue as the school faces proposals by the House Appropriations Committee to cut its budget for the 17th time in nine years.
LSU president Alexander King says he sees no problem with their revenue-generating relationship with Tin Roof, which is locally-based and run by an LSU alumni.
“It’s kind of a win-win for a lot of people you know and they’re cutting the budget for the school,” Bayou Teche Brewery president Karlos Knott said to KADN.
LSU and UL-Lafayette are not the only cash-strapped schools partnering with breweries for the extra income to make up for cuts by state governments. The University of Illinois and the University of Louisville have similar deals with beer and bourbon makers respectively in partnerships that have become a growing trend nationwide.
Tin Roof also says their lagers appeal to more mature drinkers and not young drinkers, who tend to favour light pilsners made by huge beer companies instead.
“We’re not selling Bayou Bengal to college students,” Tin Roof marketing director Malena Moreau said.
But its opponents are steadfast in their opposition to the licensing practice, which they say will worsen the underage drinking and binge drinking problems plaguing American colleges and universities.
Glover lists a convincing body of statistics to support this ban – Louisiana is the country’s fourth most obese state and has one of the highest numbers of fatal wrecks from drunk driving.
Nearly 100,000 students aged between 18 and 24 experience alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape every year in the US, according to a December 2015 fact sheet released by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The institute also found some 1,800 students from the same age group die each year from alcohol-related injuries, including motor-vehicle accidents.
“Do we really want to add to that?” Glover asked.