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College Presidents Urge Lowering Drinking Age To 18

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, August 20, 2008 4:23 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Binge Drinking, Drinking and Driving, Auto Accidents, Teen Drinking, Auto Accidents,

Will lowering the drinking age to 18 stop binge drinking?



IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockPhoto/ teenage drinking/author: Maica


It seems counter intuitive - lower the drinking age to 18 to cut down on 18- year-olds binge drinking? 

But scores of college presidents are urging just that.

A coalition of college presidents, calling themselves the Amethyst Initiative, has signed onto a petition that is being presented to state legislators to ask that the drinking age be changed from 21 to 18.

The Amethyst Initiative includes college presidents from Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, Washington and Lee, Colgate, Syracuse, Sweet Briar, Towson, Duke, Tufts, Dartmouth as well as other schools.

University presidents believe it’s impossible to stop young people from drinking, and the illegality of it all might just be encouraging the activity.

"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. By choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law," says the initiative.

Besides, the present efforts are not working and the concern is the illegality of drinking is part of the appeal.

"I think a lot of younger kids really incline themselves to drink because it's illegal. They are wanting to try something they are not allowed. If you lowered it, maybe it would not be such a sought-after thing to do." -- Andrew Huck, 18, Bloomington.

Purdue University President France Cordova is not signing onto the petition but says she says we need to find new ways to encourage young people to make responsible decisions about alcohol.

Butler University President Bobby Fong is signing onto the effort. He says that learning to drink in the homes of professors and after church taught him the role alcohol plays in a social fabric.

“We cannot provide that social fabric because serving alcohol is against the law,” he tells the Indianapolis Star.

The colleges feel that binge drinking on campus is encouraged by the law creating a culture of dangerous, illegal and clandestine binge-drinking.

The drinking age has been 21 since the 1980s and changing the age may present a challenge.  

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Nationwide Insurance are hosting a symposium on the issue in Washington in November. Its poll finds the majority, 75 percent of adults, say the present drinking laws should be supported and enforced.

MADD’s position is that keeping the drinking age at 21, reduces drunken-driving fatalities.

Drinking and driving is a leading cause of death among young Americans and many feel that lowering the drinking age will make the situation worse.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 90 percent of all drinking by people under the age of 21 is in the form of binge drinking, and often results in fatal accidents.

An Associated Press study of federal data finds that 157 young people ages 18 to 23, binged on alcohol from 1999 to 2005 and drank themselves to death.

Binge drinking also can lead to sexual assault, falling off buildings, overdosing on prescription medication, or drowning in vomit as one becomes unconscious.

Binge drinking is defined by the CDC as bringing one’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above. That translates to five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in about two hours.  

Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.

A survey released in June finds that most young teenage drinkers are getting their alcohol from their parents or other adults.

Other nations look at the issue differently.

Many European countries have an 18 year old drinking age and after the U.S. raised its drinking age, from 1982 to 1992, many other countries had larger declines in alcohol-related accidents than the U.S.

The Amethyst Initiative, launched in July 2008, is inviting informed and unimpeded debate on the drinking age and how best to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol. #


Anonymous User
Posted by Sonia Kermaz
Wednesday, August 20, 2008 9:03 AM EST

Binge drinking has very little to do with age limits and everything to do with the middle class culture of over-consumption. American parents start with all-you-can-eat pizza parties for toddlers and eventually over-indulge them with cars, credit cards and a campus condo. Binge drinking is nothing more than the adolescent version of adult consumption and spending spending behavior.

Anonymous User
Posted by Alejandra Estrada-Coulson
Saturday, August 23, 2008 1:03 PM EST

i totally agree. you rock

Anonymous User
Posted by Mim
Sunday, August 24, 2008 8:12 AM EST

Appears, that the college Presidents had too much to drink? Lowing the age will not stop the binge drinking. Regardless of the age, the binge drinking will continue. The college students probably had access to alcohol at home prior to entering college. Next idea, you will hold their hands, and feed the alcohol to them in a bottle. The college students needs to be taught responsibility. It is unfortunate that a lot of college students are not taught responsibility at home. If parents would teach responsibility prior to college instead of everything in an instant, then the college Presidents could be focused on education. The laws were changed to twenty-one, because they could not be responsibility at eighteen. If you want to increase the death rate, particularly vehicle accidents, then change the law! Please do not give me that crap, at eighteen, they are drafted in the military; these students are not in the military.

Anonymous User
Posted by Jackie
Monday, August 25, 2008 6:05 AM EST

I believe that if they decided to lower the drinking age, they should definatley look and think hard on what they are about to do. Ok, yes I believe the youth of this country has the mentality that if they say "You can't do "this"" they are going to do it anyway. It doesn't matter if they lower the age or not, underage drinking is going to happen the only difference is that it will be legal. I also believe that if they do lower it, parents need to speak to their children and say look you need to be mature about this and they need to know that, that their actions can and will be punishable. Another thing is if you can choose who you want to be president and die for your country why the hell can't you drink those two decisions right there are enough to drive you to drink. I just think that you need to be responsible and mature enough to know what your doing!

Comments for this article are closed.

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