Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

More Schmooze, Less Booze?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

More Schmooze, Less Booze?

Article excerpt

It's college recruiting season. On campuses across the country, employers are out in full force, shaking hands, scouting talent, and giving away more T-shirts and duffel bags than Major League Baseball.

That's not all that's free.

Often included in the wooing is alcohol - sometimes plenty of it. One large sales company that recruited at the University of Texas, Austin, last spring, hosted a margarita party for candidates at a local hotel, then put them up at the hotel. "Recruiters told students, 'The reason we have you in this hotel is so you can drink as much as you like,' " says Barbara Santos, director of career services. Yet as alcohol abuse and alcohol-related deaths among individual students continue to rise, universities are taking a hard line. They're pushing companies to do the same - and many are beginning to respond. "We're concerned that it creates the wrong message between the connection of alcohol and drugs and working," says Alan Goodman, chairman of the Principles Committee of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in Bethlehem, Pa. After receiving increasing reports from career directors about companies serving alcohol at events - including at least one instance of recruiters pressuring students to drink - last month NACE changed its guidelines. "The old principles said you shouldn't serve alcohol, but if you do, be careful," says Mr. Goodman, director of career services at Catholic University in Washington. "The new one says it's not appropriate." Mixing alcohol and recruiting isn't new. Wine and cheese parties, for example, have long been a signature of college recruiting. Companies host 50 to 500 students at formal receptions at local hotels, where beer and wine are served. Others throw beer and pizza parties. But in recent years, many have backed off, largely because of liability issues. "The profession has taken a stronger, more conservative position each year to minimize alcohol in recruiting," says Dana Ellis, director of recruiting at Arthur Andersen in Chicago. "Ten years ago, it was fairly prevalent in recruiting events. Today it is more the exception." "We used to have a huge problem with it," says Karen Stauffacher, director of the business school's career center at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Companies would compete to hold bigger and better cocktail parties, she says. One public accounting firm spent more than $3,000 on one event. "It was not unlike bar hopping," she says. "And many students felt they had to go." But when the school built a bigger events facility five years ago, it started "strongly encouraging" companies to hold events on campus - without alcohol. "Many {companies} were glad we did this," she adds. Yet alcohol and recruiting still mix. One company holding an information session at the University of Texas campus advertised "free beer" in its flier, Ms. …

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