Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Colleges & Tanning ... Looking Back on 2015

2015 was the first year of Pull the Plug on Tanning Beds' existence. It was a busy year, starting with Tanning Bed Dangers Awareness Month in January and expanding to five different projects and a membership of over 2600. See these blogs (Road to Destruction ... for Tanning Beds and Birth of an Anti-Tanning Grassroots Movement) for info on how and why this group came to be.

It was also an educational year, concentrating our efforts on the connections between indoor tanning and colleges/universities. Too many colleges are making it much too convenient for their students to participate in the dangerous behavior of using tanning beds. Do they not care about the health and safety of their students? Or are college administrators unaware of the dangers of tanning beds? Or is this part of the plan to lure students and their money?

I think I learned more than I really wanted to know about colleges and their administration, about off-campus housing and their management, about people. I think I prefer being naive, but there's no going back now.

Emails were sent out to over 300 college presidents on the topic of their university's connection with indoor tanning ... actually they were sent twice because of lack of response. It became apparent that most presidents do not know whether their institutions have a connection with the tanning industry ... but in truth, almost all of them do.

We found that these connections might occur through the Dept of Housing, with partnerships/affiliations with off-campus housing offering tanning beds free to the students or working through third-party housing location companies that advertise off-campus facilities that include tanning beds among their amenities on the university's web sites.

Or indoor tanning connections might be seen through the Athletic Dept, with sponsorships by tanning salons or advertising at games or in event programs often arranged by third-party marketing companies. Some tanning salons claim to be the "official" tanning salon for the cheer teams of various colleges. The University of Louisville has a notorious connection with the tanning industry according to this article!

The Finance Office might provide a link to tanning by providing student cash cards that can be used to pay for tanning services at participating tanning salons. Grand Valley State University in Michigan claimed that they would continue to allow tanning salons to participate in their cash card program because it would be breaking the law to not do so. I never received a copy of that law from them even after asking several times.

The Student Government Association is another route that permits indoor tanning to connect with college students, raising funds by offering a student ID discount program and allowing local tanning salons to participate.

The student newspapers of many colleges are not supervised or regulated by the university so articles promoting the use of tanning beds or advertising by tanning salons can and do appear as well. That's an area we will be concentrating on next.

Most colleges, at least the larger ones, have some connections to tanning. Some even house tanning beds on their campuses, and it is becoming more common for them to be in their dorms! See this article about the direction student housing is headed. Colleges have become large businesses first, institutions of higher learning second ... or so it appears to me.

For example (just one of many), through conversations with various officials at Purdue University, I learned that the tanning salon located on their campus isn't technically (according to them) on their campus. That block of retail on the edge of their campus is owned by the Purdue Research Foundation, which I was told had no connection to Purdue University. Yet the President of Purdue is the Chairman of the Board of the research foundation ... which seems like a pretty strong connection to me! Check out this article that reported this info about Purdue.

At this point we have heard back from most of the colleges (after contacting them through multiple emails, Facebook posts and messages, and tweets). See our results in the Notes section of Pull the Plug's page in our Good, Bad, and Ugly list. But we are far from done with this issue! It appears that the FDA will be putting a ban on using tanning beds on those kids younger than 18, but that still leaves those young people 18-21 vulnerable. Their lives deserve to be protected, too! So on to 2016 ...

Melanoma Mama (Jaime's mom, Donna) (Remember Jaime) (Pull the Plug on Tanning Beds) (Jjem Creations) (Jjem Creations)

1 comment:

  1. It is better to know that the entire leather tanning process involves chemical and organic compounds that can have a detrimental effect on the environment.