Sugary Drinks Defeat University of New Hampshire

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One college, apparently in an effort to promote campus health (and perhaps kind of weirdly in response to the Four Loko fiasco) tried to all ban all energy drinks on campus. And then administrators changed their minds.

According to an article by Clynton Namuo at the Union Leader:

The University of New Hampshire did an abrupt about face Monday night and decided to continue selling energy drinks, reversing a ban that had been announced only hours earlier.

The school said the drinks are full of caffeine and sugar and open to abuse by students, who may drink too much of it or mix it with alcohol with bad consequences. UNH also noted that a student had to be hospitalized earlier this school year….

“These products, while legal and safe when consumed as intended, have been proven unsafe when overused or mixed with alcohol,” Assistant Vice President for Business Affairs David May said in the earlier statement. “Just recently there was an incident on campus involving energy drinks that helped send a student to the hospital. At UNH their sale accounts for just one half of one percent of our retail sales, and keeping our students safe and healthy is certainly worth much more than that.”

The problem is that technically any substance becomes unsafe when “overused or mixed with alcohol.”

Note that this proposed ban wasn’t like the smoking prohibition in place on some college campuses. Students could still have consumed energy drinks at UNH. The school just wouldn’t sell them.

UNH won’t say what really led them to overturn the ban, though an Associated Press article by Holly Ramer notes that New Hampshire’s flagship university appears to have a rather close relationship with Red Bull, the most popular energy drink in the world:

The company, with the administration’s blessing, brought a motorcycle show to the university’s spring picnic, had Red Bull skydivers drop into the football stadium at the start of the homecoming game, and gave away a snowboard and lift pass prize package to students. It has similar relationships with hundreds of other colleges and universities.

UNH also is one of nearly 700 campuses participating in Red Bull’s “stash” contest, in which students search for four-packs of the drinks around campus in hopes of winning prizes worth a total of $224,000. Last fall, a Red Bull student “brand manager” at UNH organized a skateboarding competition, with a case of Red Bull given to winners in several categories, according to an article in the student newspaper.

The original energy drink, Gatorade, was invented on a university campus. The beverage debuted in 1965 as a way to help athletes stock up on water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes that they lost during games. The beverage is called Gatorade to honor the Gators, the mascot of the University of Florida. Scientists at the university invented the drink at the request of Gators assistant football coach Ray Graves.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer