The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Point/Counterpoint: Are the UI’s views on Fan Cans justified?

UI position understandable, yet hypocritical

I realize taking this position won’t win me fans among students. It’s just a harmless promotion, a souvenir, an opportunity to show your school spirit, many argue. So what’s wrong with the seemingly innocuous “Fan Can” promotion?

Let me preface my argument by saying that I’m not hyperventilating over the promotion, nor I do agree that it will somehow lead to binge drinking. If college kids want to get trashed, they’ll buy some cheap alcohol — in this case, watered down Bud Light “beer” — regardless of the packaging. Think Beer 30 acolytes buy it because of its effervescent packaging?

Still, I think it’s important to view this promotion in a wider context. While thousands of students are attracted to universities across the country — especially ours — because of their athletics programs, the core purpose of a university is to educate. Alcohol consumption is undoubtedly part of college life, but it’s not something the university should explicitly back.

And that’s where the problem with the promotion lies. By specifically tying a beer can to an academic institution, sales campaigns such as Anheuser-Busch’s have an insidious effect on a university’s chief role: to educate the next generation of scientists, teachers, and citizens — not sell more beer cans.

With that said, the UI’s response is laughable. If the university really cared about sending a “mixed message,” as spokesman Tom Moore told The Daily Iowan, it would discontinue Hawkeye shot glasses, bottle openers, and other assorted tailgate gear. The uncomfortable fact — at least for UI leaders — is that these accessories bring in revenue. The Fans Cans don’t.

I guess we know where the school’s real priorities reside.

— Shawn Gude

‘Fan Cans’ the scapegoat for larger issue

The UI’s concerns over the ethical nature of “Fan Cans,” however well-intentioned, should not deter Anheuser-Busch from keeping the black-and-gold cans in Iowa City. The binge drinking and overconsumption of alcohol on college campuses will not be swayed by the halted production of these particular cans.

The marketing of these cans does not specifically target students but the entire population of Iowa fans. The Federal Trade Commission requires that 70 percent of alcohol advertisements be directed toward those above the age of 21. Alcohol and tobacco advertisements geared toward underage citizens should always be followed very closely and restricted with great force. That much is not up for debate. However, to single out one group of people — in this case, college students — and suggest that black-and-gold cans have significant sway in increased alcohol consumption is ignoring larger societal concerns on campuses across this country.

As always, the purchase of alcohol by those under 21 will be blocked, and Anheuser-Busch accepts that responsibility, as does any other alcohol distributor. As such, it has agreed to stop production of these cans when asked by community leaders across this country. However, the real concern needs to be how easily accessible alcohol is to underage people in this country. College campuses around this country are filtering spots for those who are underage and wish to find an easy place to drink. Combating that problem seems to be more directly addressing the issues we face.

The issue of Fan Cans creates a great debate over the proper marketing tactics of large corporations, especially those affiliated with alcohol. Ethical discussions like these are crucial to increasing awareness. However, the dominant issue should always be what’s inside the can, not what color it is.

— Michael Davis

More to Discover