August 19th, 2008 09:13 AM
Isn't this the sign of a REAL problem?
College chiefs urge new debate on drinking age - CNN.com
College chiefs urge new debate on drinking age
(AP) -- 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 from 21 to 18, 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," said John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College in Vermont who started the organization. "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," said Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of MADD.
Both sides agree alcohol abuse by college students is a huge problem.
Research has found more than 40 percent of college students reported at least one symptom of alcohol abuse or dependence. 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 from 1999 through 2005.
Moana Jagasia, a Duke University sophomore from Singapore, where the drinking age is lower, said reducing the age in the U.S. 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 Troutt, president of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee., 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," Shalala said in a telephone interview. "To just shift it back down to the high schools makes no sense at all."
McCardell claims that his experiences as a president and a parent, as well as a historian studying Prohibition, have persuaded him the drinking age isn't working.
But critics say McCardell has badly misrepresented the research by suggesting that the decision to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21 may not have saved lives.
In fact, MADD CEO Chuck Hurley said, nearly all peer-reviewed studies looking at the change showed raising the drinking age reduced drunk-driving deaths. A survey of research from the U.S. and other countries by the Centers for Disease Control and others reached the same conclusion.
McCardell cites the work of Alexander Wagenaar, a University of Florida epidemiologist and expert on how changes in the drinking age affect safety. But Wagenaar himself sides with MADD in the debate.
The college presidents "see a problem of drinking on college campuses, and they don't want to deal with it," Wagenaar said in a telephone interview. "It's really unfortunate, but the science is very clear."
Another scholar who has extensively researched college binge-drinking also criticized the presidents' initiative.
"I understand why colleges are doing it, because it splits their students, and they like to treat them all alike rather than having to card some of them. It's a nuisance to them," said Henry Wechsler of the Harvard School of Public Health.
But, "I wish these college presidents sat around and tried to work out ways to deal with the problem on their campus rather than try to eliminate the problem by defining it out of existence," he said.
Duke faced accusations of ignoring the heavy drinking that formed the backdrop of 2006 rape allegations against three lacrosse players. The rape allegations proved to be a hoax, but the alcohol-fueled party was never disputed.
Duke senior Wey Ruepten said university officials should accept the reality that students are going to drink and give them the responsibility that comes with alcohol.
"If you treat students like children, they're going to act like children," he said.
Duke President Richard Brodhead declined an interview request. But he wrote in a statement on the Amethyst Initiative's Web site that the 21-year-old drinking age "pushes drinking into hiding, heightening its risks." It also prevents school officials "from addressing drinking with students as an issue of responsible choice."
Hurley, of MADD, has a different take on the presidents.
"They're waving the white flag," he said
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"You may know where you are. God may know where you are. If you don't tell your dispatcher where you are, you'd better be on speaking terms with God!"
August 19th, 2008 09:35 AM
August 19th, 2008 09:38 AM
I don't think lowering the age will do anything to curb the binge drinking. I starting drinking when I was in HS. What are they gonna do next, lower it to 16?
Now if they lower the age to 18 because at 18 you are supposed to be an adult, can vote, and can die for your country then that is another story.
"Don't hit a man if you can possibly avoid it; but if you do hit him, put him to sleep." - Theodore Roosevelt
August 19th, 2008 09:42 AM
I don't necessarily agree with the reasoning there, but count me as one old guy that thinks that if you're old enough and responsible enough to vote, to be charged as an adult if you commit a crime, and to fight in a war, then you're also old enough to have a cold beer (and to be held responsible for your actions in doing so).
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."
August 19th, 2008 10:19 AM
That's the reason it was originally lowered to 18 in Texas. Everything's arbitrary, of course, but it sure seems silly to me that we trust 18 year-olds to defend our country and select our leaders, but we don't trust them with a brewski.
Originally Posted by David in FL
"We're paratroopers. We're supposed to be surrounded!" Dick Winters
August 19th, 2008 11:51 AM
August 19th, 2008 11:52 AM
thats what i say all the time...joined an interesting thread on the war against drugs...had some good reasoning there too..believe it or not.
Originally Posted by rodc13
August 19th, 2008 02:50 PM
its basically saying/admitting that no matter how many laws they have and how many kids are punished, underage drinking will still happen, so why not just GIVE UP and lower the age so we can focus time and money on trying to curb another behavior.
Let's Roll - Todd Beamer
August 19th, 2008 03:11 PM
I agree. Especially with the being held responsible part.
Originally Posted by David in FL
August 19th, 2008 05:46 PM
Lowering the age doesn't have to do with drinking on campus, it has everything to do with the school being liable or not. "He was drinking legally,we had nothing to do with it."
Follow the money.
August 19th, 2008 09:33 PM
Hey Rod we agree on something.
Originally Posted by rodc13
It is surely true that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. Nor can you make them grateful for your efforts.
August 20th, 2008 12:06 AM
18 y/o = adult
Most are drinking at 18 anyway..proves the law does not work/deter those who drink "under age". Like firearms, take away the mystery, you take away binge drinking.
The longer you treat 18 y/os like children, the longer they are like children. Treat them like adults, they act as adults.
If an 18 y/o is DUI, they treated in "big boy" court--not juvenile court.
Lower the drinking age.
- know the difference
is a fancy name for crappy fighter
You have never lived until you have almost died. For those that have fought for it, life has a special flavor the protected will never know
August 20th, 2008 05:59 AM
Ding! We have a winner. It has never made sense that one can marry, vote, pay taxes, be sentenced to life in prison or be drafted at 18, but they're not mature enough to have a drink. One is either an adult or they're not.
Originally Posted by Paco
'The assailant chooses the time, location and method of attack.
Since they are unlikely to let you know ahead of time when, where and how violent they're going to be, you should always be prepared.' - matiki
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