Letters to the Editor

Viewpoint: No tobacco funds for rodeo

Contrary to the impression given by Stephen L. Hansen’s Oct. 25 letter to The Tribune, the Cal Poly Rodeo receives no sponsorship support from the smokeless tobacco industry.

In addition, campus policy prohibits tobacco advertising at all university events (Campus Administrative Policy 143.4).

Several years ago, the local tobacco control coalition asked the university to prohibit its rodeo athletes from receiving scholarship funding provided by the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, a sponsor of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. These scholarship funds are awarded to individual students based on their outstanding performance in regional and national intercollegiate rodeo competitions. They are in turn disbursed to these individual Cal Poly students through the university’s financial aid office, consistent with its scholarship and financial aid policies and procedures.

The university’s position is that there is no legal or ethical basis for Cal Poly to bar students from receiving scholarship funding awarded to them from a legal funding source.

In a May 2005 letter, the university expressed interest in working with the tobacco control coalition if they wished to establish a replacement scholarship fund that our students might access on a voluntary basis, instead of receiving scholarship monies from smokeless tobacco industry sponsors. Such a replacement fund would provide a positive alternative and incentive for students to voluntarily elect not to accept scholarship funds from the smokeless tobacco industry. The tobacco control coalition chose not to entertain this option.

In August 2005, President Baker (Cal Poly), President Ortiz (Cal Poly Pomona) and President Welty (CSU Fresno) took the further step of transmitting a joint letter to NIRA, urging it to end its association with the smokeless tobacco industry, in recognition of the growing understanding of the proven health hazards associated with smokeless tobacco use. NIRA chose not to accept this recommendation.

I hope this information will help set the record straight regarding the consistent and principled stands Cal Poly has taken on this issue.

Dan Howard-Greene is chief of staff for the office of the president at Cal Poly.