Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A New Age for Drinkers

Colleges and universities across the country are making a push to lower the legal drinking age from 21 to 18 years of age. In a report published yesterday by the Associated Press, administrators from over 100 universities are petitioning lawmakers to lower the age limit because they feel current prohibitions encourage binge drinking on university campuses.

Dubbed the Amethyst Initiative, the chancellors and presidents of the institutions involved in the challenge unveiled their fundamentals in the following summation:

1) A culture of dangerous, clandestine “binge-drinking”— often conducted off-campus —has developed.

2) Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students.

3) Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.

4) By choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law. (source)

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has begun its own campaign to contest the resolution of the Amethyst Initiative. They argue that lowering the drinking age to 18 simply passes the underage drinking conundrum to high school students, and that since 1984 - when the Uniform Drinking Age Act was signed into law by President Reagan - over 25,000 lives have been saved. According to their website, MADD is joined by former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, now president of the University of Miami; NTSB Chairman Mark V. Rosenker; the American Medical Association, and have solidified bipartisan support from numerous congressmen and senators.

Does the Amethyst Initiative employ a rationale not unlike those who want to legalize pot, meth, cocaine, crack, and other illegal drugs? Many people feel that by legalizing these types of substances the profitability and criminal activity surrounding their sale, traffic, and use would significantly diminish. The Amethyst assemblage believes that by legally permitting those who can't legally drink now - with 18 being the new limit - the factors encouraging destructive alcohol use by collegians would also abate.

Personally, I think the root cause of underage drinking is much more complex and elusive than what MADD and the Amethyst Initiative can address with their individual strategies. Again, as we have all heard before, I think that there are societal catalysts that directly and indirectly quicken the onset of alcoholism. Unfortunately, as visible and unequivocal as these factors are, they are largely ignored.

5 comments:

kris said...

"Personally, I think the root cause of underage drinking is much more complex and elusive than what MADD and the Amethyst Initiative can address with their individual strategies. Again, as we have all heard before, I think that there are societal catalysts that directly and indirectly quicken the onset of alcoholism. Unfortunately, as visible and unequivocal as these factors are, they are largely ignored."

YEP. You said it!

RJW said...

I heard a comment on the radio today that this nothing more than a way for universities to mitigate their liability when someone gets hurt or killed. "Not our fault, its legal for them to drink."

Tracy said...

Good post Tom!!
Something for you at my blog:)

Adrienne said...

rjw - I listened to Glenn Beck too and agree with the liability thingy.

Why don't we just legalize everything. That way we'll have a waaaaaaay lower crime rate, save money on prisons, and just generally have everyone "feel good" about who they are and what they do. Simple!

Terry Nelson said...

I enjoyed being drunk throughout college.