New state law limits college marketing

Credit card companies may soon have to deal with new policies that regulate their conduct on campus.

On Sept. 12 Governor and ex-officio UC Regent Gray Davis signed a bill into law requiring California State Universities and California community colleges to adopt policies to regulate the marketing practices used on campuses by credit card companies.

The bill does not require the UC system to comply, but it does include language strongly urging it to do so.

The regulatory policies are to include a prohibition on credit card companies offering gifts to students in exchange for filling out credit card applications. The bill, which was introduced by California Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-Los Angeles, also requires the affected campuses to offer debt education as a regular part of campus orientation for new students.

Koretz’s Chief of Staff Scott Svonkin said the main goal of the legislation is to empower and educate college students on the risks of using credit cards.

“”[Credit card companies] focus on giveaways and distract students from the real issues. Many college students got credit cards just because they wanted free gifts,”” Svonkin said, citing a Public Interest Resource Groups study.

Gov. Davis spokesman Roger Salazer said that students inexperienced with using credit cards can get into more debt than they realize.

“”Because of the lax requirements that come with student credit cards, [students are] often put in a position where they’ve run up more debt than they can handle,”” he said.

A.S. Vice President External Dylan de Kervor said that the A.S. Council supports the regulation of credit card companies on campus, even though the bill does not require UC campuses to do so.

“”We don’t want credit card companies on campus recruiting our students,”” de Kervor said. “”If the university is allowing credit card companies on campus, it should be providing information — period.””

De Kervor said that the A.S. Council wants to see the implementation of regulatory policies on credit card companies by next year.

“”We’ll be drafting a letter to our chancellor requesting that he do this as soon as possible,”” de Kervor said.

Svonkin said that a graduate student who was working in Koretz’s office did some research on student credit cards and brought the issue to the attention of Koretz.

UC spokesperson Mary Spletter said that UC President Richard C. Atkinson sent out a letter to each campus, requesting that they review their policies in light of the bill to regulate the marketing practices of credit card companies.

“”Each of the campuses has its own policy on the marketing of materials,”” Spletter said.

Spletter said that no systemwide policy on student credit cards exists.

UCSD students expressed a variety of opinions about regulating credit card companies and student debt.

“”Most of the time, if you use your head, you won’t get in too much trouble,”” said Warren freshman Wesley Oldaker. “”I don’t think [student debt] should be the school’s problem.””

Warren sophomore Ian McKinney said that it would be beneficial for students to have a credit card and debt education program on campus.

“”I think that credit card companies make pretty good money off people who don’t know the full responsibility of having [a credit card],”” McKinney said. “”[Student debt] very easily could be a problem if it’s not controlled, if the corporations don’t act responsibly.””

Warren freshman Erin Selawski agreed with McKinney that credit card companies should act responsibly.

“”I don’t think people who have shown they can’t manage a [credit card] should have it,”” Selawski said.

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