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UVa Student Newspaper Sues State

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

June 9, 2006

The University of Virginia's student run newspaper, the Cavalier Daily has filed a lawsuit against the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for not allowing them to run ads with alcoholic beverages.

Newspaper officials said they are losing valuable advertising money. Law enforcement officials are worried about underage drinking, because ads tend to glamorize alcohol.

The free student run newspaper said their sales are suffering since state regulations do not allow them to run ads for alcoholic beverages.

"Of course we have to turn down advertisers now, which is a potential source of revenue for us [from those] who want to advertise alcohol," said Mike Slaven, the Cavalier Daily editor in chief.

Newspaper officials feel the state law is stricter on them just because they're a university paper.

"The free papers which are distributed in boxes next to ours are allowed to advertise these products, we don't see why we shouldn't be able to," said Slaven.

So the paper announced on their website they are suing the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control claiming the ban is unconstitutional. But this lawsuit has law enforcement concerned that the ads will send the wrong message to younger students about drinking.

"It takes tragedy in our community before we begin to recognize once again how important it is to communicate a message to our young people about the consequences that are associated with underage drinking," said Chief Tim Longo, of the Charlottesville Police Department.

However, the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the newspaper, said there is no evidence that ads glamorize alcohol or that the restriction on the ads really do discouraging underage drinking.

"We serve faculty, staff, graduate students and older undergraduate students so I don't really think that there will be any effect on underage drinking if we are allowed to run these advertisements," said Slaven.

The state's lawyers have not yet reviewed this case, but ABC officials say that whatever happens in this lawsuit, they will enforce the laws and regulations.

The student newspaper at Virginia Tech has also filed suit. Cavalier Daily officials said the University of Pittsburgh's student newspaper challenged similar restrictions in 2004 and won the lawsuit.


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