College admins raise glasses to lowered drinking age


–Lauren M. Ruhland, 2008 MCPP intern

You’ve heard the arguments before– it’s simply unfair to let somebody to choose to put his life on the line for his country but prohibit him from having a beer with his buddies.  It defies logic that a young woman can make the decision to marry and start a family at 18, so long as she doesn’t sip champagne at the wedding.  Many agree that the United States’ minimum drinking age is unreasonably high given that the age of legal majority is set at 18 in most of the country.  It’s not surprising to me that a new organization is calling for a return to a minimum legal drinking age of 18, but I am surprised about the source– college presidents.

As signatories of the Amethyst Initiative, college presidents are calling on America to rethink the the current minimum drinking age.  Says the Free Press:

College presidents from about 100 of the nation’s best-known universities, including Duke, Dartmouth and Ohio State … [say] current laws actually encourage dangerous binge drinking on campus.

“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.”

However, Laura Dean-Mooney, the national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, seems to want to put these college presents on Double Secret Probation.  “It’s very clear the 21-year-old drinking age will not be enforced at those campuses,” she says in the Freep article above.

I don’t think you can draw Dean Wormer (couldn’t resist!) Dean-Mooney’s conclusion from the stated goals of the organization.  The administrators state on the Amethyst website “that the 21 year-old drinking age is not working, and, specifically, that it has created a culture of dangerous binge drinking on their campuses.” If these administrators were ignoring the law, they probably wouldn’t feel the need to push for a discussion of the issue– it’s more easy to simply continue turning a blind eye than to call others’ attention to their perspective.

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One thought on “College admins raise glasses to lowered drinking age

  1. Good for them. Infantilizing young adults in this way is absurd, and harmful. When I was at UM the age was 18, and the kind of binge drinking we see in the paper these days was unknown. It was safer and a much mure useful introduction to one of the realities of adult life in our western culture.

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