Iowa City, the home to the University of Iowa, recently passed an ordinance forbidding anyone under the legal drinking age of 21 to be in an Iowa City bar after 10 p.m.
Univ. of Iowa school officials were major proponents of the new law, which has effectively wiped out the town’s off-campus bar scene. So Iowa students are doing what they can to fight back against the ordinance, including spotlighting the blatant mixed message being sent by the school’s licensed merchandise policy.
The official University of Iowa Trademark Licensing Program website notes that, “no merchandise or use of the University of Iowa logos and trademarks will be approved when used in conjunction with or making reference to alcohol, alcohol consumption and/or abuse.”
Yet an entire section of the official online store for officially licensed Univ. of Iowa products is devoted to drinkware that includes “shot glasses“, a “wine accessory gift set“, a “Cosmo glass“, a stainless steel, 16 oz. “pilsner glass“, “mixing glasses“, bottle opener key chains, and even a talking bottle opener. (Apparently in case Ed Podolak can’t make it to your Kinnick Stadium tailgate.)
Matt Pfaltzgraf is an Iowa student and leader of a campaign to try to get the “21 ordinance” overturned. Of those officially licensed “drinkware” UI products, the IOWA CITY PRESS-CITIZEN reported last week:
“They have a policy against selling things … related to alcohol consumption,” said Matt Pfaltzgraf, UI student and leader of the anti-21-only campaign, Yes to Entertaining Students Safely. “Yet, I was able to buy about eight shot glasses (and) a couple of pitchers. … They’re obviously not following their own policy.”
What’s more is the university is making money on these products that Pfaltzgraf thinks promote the binge drinking UI officials are trying to combat.
“It’s a double standard,” he said.
So what does Iowa administration officials and licensed vendors have to say about Pfaltzgraf’s charge of hypocrisy?
They claim those University of Iowa officially-licensed “drinkware” products are not intended for alcoholic beverages.
From the Press-Citizen:
Selling products such as beer glasses and pitchers doesn’t undermine UI’s efforts to curb dangerous drinking, said interim-Vice President Tom Rocklin. Rocklin has championed changing the city and campus’ drinking culture both in his position at the university and as a private citizen serving on the 21 Makes Sense committee.
“I think that licensing products that relate to alcohol consumption would be contrary to our message if our message was prohibition – which it isn’t,” Rocklin said. “It’s not like we have licensed beer bongs, for instance.”
Ah, the whole extreme-example-to-distract-from-our-stupefying-hypocrisy trick. Works every time! (At least in a town where you own and operate the political machinery.)
Ron Christensen, owner of Game Day Iowa, which features 36,000 licensed Iowa products
and has invested heavily in the drinkware items that he can’t afford write off at a loss, piles on:
“A lot of those items aren’t used for drinking. Students that are drinking aren’t going to use their money to buy them.”
Finally, the ASSOCIATED PRESS has this priceless defense from Iowa Trademark Licensing Director Dale Arens, who oversees the UI Trademark Licensing Office:
Arens said he doesn’t think the sale of beer glasses and related items violates that policy.
“If a glassware company comes to us, we don’t let them promote (the product) as a beer stein or shot glass,” Arens said. “We view those as collectibles. People collect those things and they line them up on their shelves. You’d be hard pressed to find someone drinking beer out of a collector’s stein.”
Glassware is allowed because it could be used for drinking nonalcoholic beverages, Arens said. Products that are clearly used for alcohol consumption, such as flasks or products used to sneak alcohol into stadiums, are not permitted, Arens said.
As a refresher, the Iowa licensed product policy states:
“No merchandise or use of the University of Iowa logos and trademarks will be approved when used in conjunction with or making reference to alcohol, alcohol consumption and/or abuse.”
So selling a “wine accessory kit”, “Cosmo glass”, “pilsner glass” and multiple varieties of “shot glasses” doesn’t make reference to alcohol?
Clearly we’ve caught the folks at the University of Iowa in the midst of their daily observance of Opposite Day.