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College Presidents Want Lower Drinking Age


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So the logic being presented here, by college presidents no less, is that by making drinking legal for 18 year olds there will be less binge drinking in college?

What have these people been smoking (or drinking)?

College Presidents Want Lower Drinking Age

By JUSTIN POPE, Associated Press | August 19, 2008

College presidents from about 100 of the nation's best-known universities, including Duke, Dartmouth, and Ohio State, are calling on lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age to 18 from 21, saying current laws actually encourage dangerous binge drinking on campus.

The movement called the Amethyst Initiative began quietly recruiting presidents more than a year ago to provoke national debate about the drinking age.

"This is a law that is routinely evaded," a former president of Middlebury College in Vermont who started the organization, John McCardell, said. "It is a law that the people at whom it is directed believe is unjust and unfair and discriminatory."

Other prominent schools in the group include Syracuse, Tufts, Colgate, Kenyon, and Morehouse.

But even before the presidents begin the public phase of their efforts, which may include publishing newspaper ads in the coming weeks, they are already facing sharp criticism.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving says lowering the drinking age would lead to more fatal car crashes. It accuses the presidents of misrepresenting science and looking for an easy way out of an inconvenient problem. MADD officials are even urging parents to think carefully about the safety of colleges whose presidents have signed on.

"It's very clear the 21-year-old drinking age will not be enforced at those campuses," the national president of MADD, Laura Dean-Mooney, said.

Both sides agree alcohol abuse by college students is a huge problem.

Research has found more than 40% of college students reported at least one symptom of alcohol abuse or dependance. One study has estimated more than 500,000 full-time students at four-year colleges suffer injuries each year related in some way to drinking, and about 1,700 die in such accidents.

A recent Associated Press analysis of federal records found that 157 college-age people, 18 to 23, drank themselves to death between 1999 and 2005.

Moana Jagasia, a Duke University sophomore from Singapore, where the drinking age is lower, said reducing the age in America could be helpful.

"There isn't that much difference in maturity between 21 and 18," she said. "If the age is younger, you're getting exposed to it at a younger age, and you don't freak out when you get to campus."

McCardell's group takes its name from ancient Greece, where the purple gemstone amethyst was widely believed to ward off drunkenness if used in drinking vessels and jewelry. He said college students will drink no matter what, but do so more dangerously when it's illegal.

The statement the presidents have signed avoids calling explicitly for a younger drinking age. Rather, it seeks "an informed and dispassionate debate" over the issue and the federal highway law that made 21 the de facto national drinking age by denying money to any state that bucks the trend.

But the statement makes clear the signers think the current law isn't working, citing a "culture of dangerous, clandestine binge-drinking," and noting that while adults under 21 can vote and enlist in the military, they "are told they are not mature enough to have a beer." Furthermore, "by choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law."

"I'm not sure where the dialogue will lead, but it's an important topic to American families and it deserves a straightforward dialogue," said William Trout, president of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., who has signed the statement.

But some other college administrators sharply disagree that lowering the drinking age would help. University of Miami President Donna Shalala, who served as secretary of health and human services under President Clinton, declined to sign.

"I remember college campuses when we had 18-year-old drinking ages, and I honestly believe we've made some progress," Ms. Shalala said in a telephone interview. "To just shift it back down to the high schools makes no sense at all."

http://www.nysun.com/national/college-pres...king-age/84123/

So the logic being presented here, by college presidents no less, is that by making drinking legal for 18 year olds there will be less binge drinking in college?

What have these people been smoking (or drinking)?

As I recall, there was an era, not so long ago, when the drinking age was lowered to 18 in many states, only to again be raised to 21. As I further recall, it made no difference in "binge drinking" at all. But what it did do is increase the availability of alcohol to an even lower age group.

Where 21 year olds are normally associated with 18-20 year olds in college, 18 year olds are still associated with 15 to 17 year olds in high school. Any guess how that ends up?

I'm not so much interested in the law or what the legal age should be. But I am interested in the logic, or lack there of, that argues lowering the age limit will somehow magically help lessen problem drinking. I cannot, for the life of me, see how lowering the age limit would mean less binge drinking in college (it's the culture, stupid!). However I can see how it might aggravate the problem by making alcohol more readily available to an even younger segment of the population while having no real effect on drinking in college either.

Of course they're college and university presidents. Their only concern is their little world, and they're taking heat for not doing more about binge drinking by underage college students. Make 18 the law and they can wash their hands of the problem.

What effect it has in high-schools, of course, concerns them not at all.

Thanks Mc

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I think lowering it to 18 makes some sense actually. Lets looks at some basic truths.

1. College freshmen ALREADY drink

2. To drink to mostly have to go to parties (by likely driving)

3. Since alcohol is only available to them at parties they tend to drink as much as possible as it is their only chance.

It is likely thought that there will be a year or two where things will get worse before they get better, but in the long run I actually believe this is a legit idea.

Oh, and I guess you grew up differently than me, but no college freshman I knew were hanging out with high schoolers of any age.

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I think this is one of those laws, like speed limits, that in a perfect world could be loosened and then enforced strictly. Almost all speed limits should be increased by 10mph, but then strictly enforced so that no one will drive faster than the new speed limit. Similarly, 18 should be the drinking age, but no one under 18 should drink.

Another theory is that those younger than 21 are often allowed into bars and clubs near college campuses. In this case, the underage drink copious amounts of alcohol before going to the bar or club since they will not be allowed to drink once they arrive.

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The other thing to consider is, most states consider 18 legal age for most everything else. For example, 18 year olds can sign their own leases, get a credit line, a loan, and smoke cigarettes. On a Federal level, 18 year old men are required to sign draft cards. In my opinion, if you can serve your country in war, you should be able to legally drink. Also, I think that there should be one consistent age in which you are an "adult" under the law. Whether it is 18 or 21, I think there shouldn't be a half way. Once the law no longer considers you a minor, I think you should be given all the rights and responsibilities of an adult.

I also agree that if the drinking age is lowered to 18 there should be much stricter penalties for underage drinking and the establishments that do not enforce the law.

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"There isn't that much difference in maturity between 21 and 18," she said. "If the age is younger, you're getting exposed to it at a younger age, and you don't freak out when you get to campus."

I disagree, I personally did a lot of growing up between those ages and I have seen several of interns (summer hires) grow up over the course of their time in college. I just don't think this something that a high school senior or College freshman should be able to do. I honestly don't see how it will stop binge drinking and how it can be enforced any stricter than it is right now. Think about how easy it was for all of us to get alcohol for the weekend when we were that age. I know being one of the younger ones in my class that a lot of my friends that would have been 18 before graduation would have been more than ready to go buy it so we could all party.

I also believe that a lot of 18 yr olds don't have the maturity to sign a lease, open a line of credit, vote, join the military...etc...etc...etc..., but I am sure there are a lot out there level headed enough to handle it. I can see both sides of the argument, but still disagree with lowering the legal drinking age.

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Does anyone else find it strange that you could be in the military for three years before you can legally purchase alcohol?

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Does anyone else find it strange that you could be in the military for three years before you can legally purchase alcohol?

I do.

Hey Al, have you ever seen any 18/19 year olds during your time of service and thought to yourself "they should have waited a few years before joining" based on the fact that you thought they were too immature?

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Does anyone else find it strange that you could be in the military for three years before you can legally purchase alcohol?

I do.

Hey Al, have you ever seen any 18/19 year olds during your time of service and thought to yourself "they should have waited a few years before joining" based on the fact that you thought they were too immature?

Sure. I've also seen 35 year old E-6's I thought were too immature!

Point is, we take them and train them to see and do some potentially horrific things while at the same time saying they're not allowed to have a beer or six!

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I tend to think the 21 year age limit puts them in college around juniors and seniors who can drink and at parties with alcohol but they can't partake, which turns it into the "forbidden fruit." Other countries don't have nearly the problems with drinking and driving and binge drinking that we do and have age limits as low as 16.

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Does anyone else find it strange that you could be in the military for three years before you can legally purchase alcohol?

I do.

Hey Al, have you ever seen any 18/19 year olds during your time of service and thought to yourself "they should have waited a few years before joining" based on the fact that you thought they were too immature?

Sure. I've also seen 35 year old E-6's I thought were too immature!

Point is, we take them and train them to see and do some potentially horrific things while at the same time saying they're not allowed to have a beer or six!

I see that side of the argument, I just have a hard time thinking that giving an 18 year old the ability to legally purchase alcohol will help curb binge drinking. I said earlier, I am sure there are some level headed 18 yr olds out there that can handle more responsibility than others their age and even some that are older than them.

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18 is fine with me. if an 18 year old can join the military, vote, legally get married, can be tried for an adult crime and do adult time, why by the same notion can they not make a purchase and consume an adult beverage?

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I am for lowering the age due to what most of you have stated (voting, military, etc.). I, too, feel there needs to be tougher penalties for drinking and driving. If you harm someone else as a result of your D&D, you serve time and lose your license for ever. Designate a driver or call a cab. If you can't afford a cab you can't afford to go out and drink.

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As a 20 year old myself who is about to turn 21(october 31st) I think I see their point. I know almost all of my friends drank less after they turned 21 because it became more common place. This is not true in all cases, but in most cases this is true.

Also, I find it strange to hear republicans say that a legal adult(18 year old) should have less rights from the government. If they are an adult, why should the government be telling them when they are old enough. I don't know why this is even an issue. Why is that? Why is the age past 18 even an issue?

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It does seem weird to me that drinking is about the only thing we don't allow 18-yr-olds to do, while granting them adult rights and expecting them to show adult responsibility* in all other respects.

I also think there is something to the "forbidden fruit" syndrome that leads people to be more likely to abuse that which they have been forbidden. Speaking from 28 years of experience as a university professor, it has been my experience that some of the worst binge drinkers and alcohol abusers I've encountered among students have been from dry counties. This leads me to three possible conclusions: 1) coming from areas where alcohol is more taboo, they more readily fall prey to "forbidden fruit" temptation and abuse (my personal theory), 2) in some cases in dry counties, if the alcohol comes from bootleggers who are already breaking the law, those bootleggers aren't all that concerned about selling to minors and these kids may have been binge drinking since high school, or 3) since this is just anecdotal evidence based on my perceptions, and not a scientifically controlled statistical sampling, I don't really know what I'm talking about. :rolleyes:

*One thing that does concern me is that it seems our society coddles high schoolers and college students a lot more than it used to. I'm from the era when we fought to get "in loco parentis" (spelling?...my Latin sucks) policies removed. My freshman year at Auburn, 1972, for example, girls' dorms still had curfews and sign in/sign out regulations. My generation struggled to be treated as an adult by the university. Having seemingly won that battle, it now seems things are return to the bad old days. Universities are returning to acting as surrogate parents. Nationally there's a trend to tighten dorm restrictions, to expect colleges to provide tighter security than local municipalities provide in an apartment just across the street, to impliment dress codes, etc. If your child leaves home and enters the working world after high school, he/she has to face the world as an adult. Why should we babysit college students, supposedly a "brighter" segment of the population anyway, for another four years?

I say treat 18-year-olds as adults in every way. Give them ALL adult rights, but expect them to exercise ALL adult responsibilities as well. Of course, that means parents have to raise kids to understand the meaning of responsibility by the time they are 18...not coddle, baby, or excuse them until they are 20, 25, or older in some cases, by paying all their bills, bailing them out of troubles, blaming cops/teachers/administrators for not "protecting" them, or accepting their kids "excuses", as so often seems the case. [To be fair, seems like a lot of parents these days haven't mastered that level of responsiblity themselves.]

Finally, a caveat/compliment: I must say that I have been impressed with the level of parenting I see expressed by members of AUN who have kids. Based on the comments of those AUN parents who discuss their kids on this board, you all seem to have pretty sound parenting skills.

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The kids are going to drink. If the age is lowered there will be 3 years the kids won't be criminals by drinking under age. Getting away with violating the law is not good when that lesson learned is applied to future conduct.

If I had a 20 year old kid in college, I wouldn't want her to be taken to court for underage drinking. That offense will stay on her record forever. If she gets two or three such convictions, it could severely impact her ability to get a good job upon graduation.

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Oh, and I guess you grew up differently than me, but no college freshman I knew were hanging out with high schoolers of any age.

Look at the age of HS grads...................most are 18 their senior year. I was the "baby" in my class and I turned 18 on graduation day. I think his point is that at 18, you still have that year of high school and the summer before leaving college. Also, as a feshman at college I think students will have their cousins and brothers along with their friends come visit. Often time these are younger family members (the 16-17 y/o).

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18 for beer, 21 for alcohol.

The drinking age did not get moved up due to any studies. It got moved up because the federal government blackmailed the states into doing so. When Alabama went from 19 to 21, it was only due to the fact that if they did not, they would lose federal road money. (bastages. I missed it by a year)

19 was a good age, it put most kids OUT of high school. AU was a happening place back in the early 80's. After that you had to come up with a fake ID. Fortunately all you needed back then was a decent camera and a laminating machine. But I digress.

Oklahoma skirted the law for years by selling 18 yr old 3:2 beer. Same taste, lower alcohol. If we put a label on it as being a no-no, then there are many kids that will do it just to be "daring".

So a cautious medium would be to allow 18 yr olds to buy the normal alcohol content beer and wait for the hard stuff till they are 21.

And the guys that join the military at 17 have to wait 4 years to drink. My oldest just turned 21 in Afghanistan. Odoul's for everyone...LOL

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Lower the drinking age and raise the age to drive!

Not a good idea. You need at least 2 years experience BEFORE attempting to drink and drive.... :no:

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Does anyone else find it strange that you could be in the military for three years before you can legally purchase alcohol?

Granted it's been a while since I was in the service, but I don't remember anyone with an ID being turned away or denied service for the beverage of choice, at the enlisted clubs on base. Do they check ID's for age now?

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Does anyone else find it strange that you could be in the military for three years before you can legally purchase alcohol?

Granted it's been a while since I was in the service, but I don't remember anyone with an ID being turned away or denied service for the beverage of choice, at the enlisted clubs on base. Do they check ID's for age now?

I've seen people carded at shopette's and Class VI stores. I don't go to the clubs on base so I can't speak to that.

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