A university in the US has been encouraging debate after taking the decision to ban the sale of all energy drinks on campus for fear they will cause students to participate in “high-risk sexual activity.”
The Dining Services at Middlebury College in Vermont reportedly distributed a flyer among the student body which, according to the college student newspaper, The Middlebury Campus, revealed a scientific connection between the consumption of the drinks and “unsafe behaviour in young people”
Energy drinks, said the flyer, cause “increased alcohol consumption, increased likelihood to drive while intoxicated, increased probability of use of other intoxicating substance, and increased participation in high-risk sexual activity.”
According to its section on the Middlebury College site, Dining Services outlines its mission as being to “nourish and nurture today and tomorrow by sustaining mind, body, and earth.”
However, it was a recent American studies undergraduate and now intern with the food provider, Myles Kamisher-Koch, who took issue with the mission statement and argued at a Community Council meeting that it didn’t reflect its message accurately so long as energy drinks were available on campus.
The college’s Community Council says it serves as a forum in which all segments of the college community have a voice on non-academic issues it faces, adding: “With a membership representing students, faculty and staff, deliberations and decisions consider the interests and concerns of the whole community.”
With several Dining Services staff members agreeing with Mr Kamisher-Koch, according to The Middlebury Campus, he presented the council with data from a study which stated that “up to 25 per cent of current drinkers combine alcoholic beverages with energy drinks.” He further added that the drinks promote “poor academic tendencies” which led to a “culture of stress.”
When asked if a survey should be conducted among the student body, according to the minutes of the council meeting where the banning of the sale of the drinks came into effect, council member Emma Bliska said: “I’m not sure a survey is necessary.
“I understand why the Student Government Association (SGA) is concerned, but we’re here to do the right thing and the right thing is to pass this because energy drinks shouldn’t be on this campus. People who are upset about it will get over it.”
Another member, Brandon Baird, opposed the ban and told the meeting: “I’m not in support. From a personal statement, I agree with all the literature. I do think it’s a personal infringement on rights. I don’t drink energy drinks, alcohol, or coffee but I don’t think it’s my place to tell someone else.”
Again, when pressed about gathering student opinion prior to the ban, Miss Bliska said: “Polls are kind of a waste of time. The whole point of a representative body is that you don’t have to poll everyone.”
In the end, eleven voted in favour of the ban, while one member opposed, and two abstained.
The aforementioned flyer also reportedly backed-up Mr Kamisher-Koch’s arguments, and read: “Consuming these products may result in serious health-related issues such as; cardiovascular events, seizures, and liver damage.”
The decision, though, was made final by Dining Services’ executive director of food service, Dan Detora, who signed off on the campus literature. Speaking with NBC News, Mr Detora remained unyielding on his stance to ban the drinks, and said: “I see it as the equivalent of banning cigarettes.”