Easing its assault on underage drinking on college campuses, the Senate agreed late Thursday night to tone down proposed legislation that would have severely restricted alcohol promotion on campus.
In its new form, the legislation, an amendment to the anti-drug bill, would withhold federal funding from colleges that fail to prohibit on-campus advertising promoting underage drinking, or that do not discourage campus publications from displaying such advertising.
The new legislation also mandates that advertisements by alcoholmakers who sponsor campus events be limited "to statements of corporate identification."
The modified amendment was co-written by Sen. Jeff Bingaman '65 (D-N.M.), author of the original, after his first proposal drew a wave of criticism from inside and outside the Senate.
"He recognized that new language could solve the problem [of alcohol on campus] just as effectively, without raising any of the legal problems," said a Senate aide who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Initially the amendment, a much tougher proposal passed late Tuesday night withonly a handful of senators present, requiredcolleges to prohibit alcohol companies frompromoting products, sponsoring campus events oradvertising in campus newspapers altogether.
Critics said the original amendment was tooheavy-handed.
"It's a bad policy and has a lot of problems,"the aide said Wednesday. "We would like to narrowthe language to address the real problem--abusive,underage, irresponsible drinking. The Bingamanamendment is too broad."
The original amendment was also attacked asbeing unconstitutional Members of the StudentPress Law Association, a Washington legal firmthat advises student newspapers, lobbied severalsenators this week to change the amendment, saidthe firm's executive director, Mark Goodman.
"It is not Constitutionally sound," Goodmansaid Thursday. He said the original legislationpossibly violated First Amendment rights to freepress, 14th Amendment rights to equal protectionunder the Constitution and the 21st amendment--therepeal of Prohibition--which gives states theright to regulate alcohol.
Goodman said that barring alcoholadvertisements could have jeopardized studentnewspapers that rely on them for income.
Goodman said yesterday the modified amendmentwas "100 percent better," but added that he wantedto study it further before making a finaljudgement.
The modified amendment left unchanged anoriginal measure that prohibits free distributionof alcoholic beverages on campus.
But Elizabeth Conlisk, public relations managerfor Miller Brewing Co., said the idea ofdistributing free beer was "ludicrous," addingneither Miller nor any other major beer companydoes so.
Miller is based in Wisconsin, the home state ofSen. Herbert Kohl (D-Wisc.), who co-sponsored themodified amendment