I recently read an article about some prominent college presidents who signed on in support of the Amethyst Initiative, which would essentially lower the drinking age to 18. These colleges included Duke, Dartmouth, Ohio State, Syracuse, Tufts, Colgate, Kenyon and . The argument is that the current law against underage drinking only encourages binge drinking on campus. I would have to disagree. When I went to college I recall that students of all ages were drinking. This included students twenty-one and older and eighteen years and under, and townies who we could only guess their age. To be honest I went to an extremely liberal college for two years and then transfered to a pretty conservative college with a Drug Free policy. During this time I realized that this issue was more of a societal concern then a school policy. The problem is America’s need to over consume. I think this whole debate is the colleges inability to control underage drinking. Rather then taking up the issue they don’t want to deal with it. Besides if we were to lower the drinking age high schools could turn around and argue that they think it should be lowered to sixteen, simply because they also don’t want to deal with it. The reality is that most drunk driving accidents occur because of underage drinking. More then 90,000 sexual assaults by college students (ages 18-24) are done when both parties are supposedly drunk. Underage drinking is more likely to kill young people then all illegal drugs combined. Exactly how will lowering the drinking age lower these statistics?
In most countries people grow up drinking wine with a meal, or drinking beer after a hard days work. But, as Americans we have become obsessed with having more then we can handle. Many use this same argument for legalizing marijuana, which by the way I am not opposed to. The problem is others also want to legalize methamphetamine or cocaine rather then looking at the effects of the drug. Alcohol reacts differently depending on your body; it causes some people to act erratically while others bodies simply slow down. My biggest concern when it comes to drinking is the safety of the community and student body. Most instances of binge drinking in colleges comes from sorority or fraternity themed parties. The issue is the image that these sororities and fraternities provide to teens and adults. This is also often approved by colleges that offer alcohol advertisements at their sports events-including the NCAA games as my sister noted.
I am often opposed to government regulating citizens behavior, but I also realize that this is what protects my friends and family members from becoming one of these statistics. As my brothers are set to start their journey to college, I hope that the colleges they choose will in fact abide by the twenty-one and older law when it comes to alcohol consumption. I also realize that this is a dialogue that starts at home. It’s more about responsibility and taking control of your actions, and yet I know that turning eighteen is a vital time to experiment and lose control in the process. I think this is where a college steps in, not to be the parent but to re-enforce the parents stance. I realized that in college there were students like me that became social drinkers and there were those that became binge drinkers, but I knew the consequences of my behavior and I knew what was allowed and expected of me at every student gathering. I hope that this dialogue will address some of these concerns rather then simply asking for a change in a law that right now makes a lot of sense to me.