Several students who have
produced T-shirts for homecoming
have received cease and desist letters
from the university for infringement
of copyright law.
Because of these student-made
shirts, Vice Chancellor for Student
Affairs Al Thompson sent out an email
on Sept. 17 asking for all students
to consider the legal implications of
such designs. He reminded students
that unauthorized products bearing
the name or marks of the University
of Wisconsin–Stevens Point violates
common law rights of the school.
“How do we want our university
portrayed?” Thompson said. “What
is the right thing to do? Are you going
to be happy to have that out there in
front of the world?”
While UWSP has no ability
to prevent students from wearing
clothing with reference to alcohol,
the inclusion of UWSP trademarked
symbols and designs has resulted in
students receiving cease and desist
“We don’t want the name
UW-Stevens Point associated with
indecent or profane material,”
said Kate Worster, Executive
Director of University Relations
and Communications. According
to Worster, she has sent multiple
shirts and promotions to theLicense Resource Group where they
determined if the designs violated
Sarah Ebert, a senior at UWSP,
designed two of the shirts that the
group determined were a violation of
the copyright law.
“I received a private letter from a
lawyer that said if we didn’t change
the layout we could be sued,” Ebert
“I understand what they’re doing,
but I’m a little frustrated,” Ebert said.
According to her both original
shirts made alcohol references in
relation to Stevens Point, not UWSP, but contained unacceptable color.
“They should let students be
more creative without disallowing colors,” Ebert said.
Ebert is not the only student to voice concern over trademark colors.
Senior Katie Prosser also voiced her
“The color thing really upsets
me. I get it, it’s representation of the
university but people who celebrate
homecoming are proud of their
schools,” Prosser said.
An alumnus, who requested not
to be named, designed a shirt for
homecoming as well. It reads “Avoid
Hangovers Stay Drunk.”
She believes the shirt designs are
all done in good fun.
“It’s just a fun welcome back for
the students to reconnect with people
they haven’t seen for a while,” the
alumnus said. “The school puts on
other events for those who choose
not to drink. By making these shirts
I’m not promoting underage drinking
or binge drinking, I just want to be a
part of the fun.”
“There is a way to celebrate
homecoming in a very positive,
upbeat, fun way,” Thompson said.
“The shirts don’t have to be where
certain messaging is being made
through alcohol, sexual innuendo, or
imagery that is demeaning. “
Thompson admitted that some of
the shirts he has seen are funny, but
many push the bounds of acceptable.
Communication professor Alex
Ingersoll agrees that the designs are
“This treads the line between
satire and potential problematic
speech in relation to binge drinking,”
Ingersoll said. “In college culture
there is a rising conversation which
oftentimes approaches sexual violence
and drinking as issues that are often
deflected by satire and humor.”