It’s called the Amethyst Initiative and according to proponents the current drinking age encourages binge drinking in people under 21. Yeah, that’s exactly what they’re saying:
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 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 from 1999 through 2005.
Right. The fact is I’ve been clean and sober nearly eight years so I’m biased, but I can objectively tell you that binge drinking isn’t caused by having to hide your drinking or not being taught how to “drink right” but by the drinker’s inability to deal with various problems they have. Shyness, depression or the general ennui that develops in the young when their intellectual and spiritual lives are empty are more likely the culprits to binge drinking.
But Amethyst Initiative creator John McCardell Jr, who also is the founder of another group dedicated to lowering the drinking age called Choose Responsibility, would disagree with the above analysis and claim that people binge drink simply because they’re not allowed to drink with him or people his age. I’m nutshelling his position to be sure, but what these college presidents are advocating is for kids fresh out of high school to be able to accompany them to a bar. What they want is a wink and nudge college system where people like McCardell would be able to abdicate of their responsibility to provide guidance to their charges while every campus dorm becomes a set for Girls Gone Wild.
There’s something unseemly about people who work in a college advocating making it legal to get freshmen girls drunk. Maybe you have to spend as much time on college campuses as I did to really see it, but some of you know exactly what is driving this “initiative” to break down what I think is a good barrier between young adults not yet ready to make responsible decisions and the boomers who won’t grow up and stop trying to have sex with them.
But like I said, I’m biased toward staying sober so McCardell will say I’m just a prude. So will Robert Van Der Ohe though, and I’m sure he supports this nonsense.
M.A.D.D. is against this and they have some stats to back up their contention that raising the drinking age saved lives. The most important information they point to though, and key to understanding the nuances of the debate, is this SAMHSA study which shows that at least 40% of underage drinkers receive their alcohol free from a person over the age of 21. Or to translate: Old dudes like to get teens drunk to have sex with them.
There’s a site called Why 21 that also argues against lowering the drinking age.
Before the emails start I’d be fine with a lower drinking age if A) The people promoting it were honest about the facts of drinking and B) It wasn’t being pushed by some old dude from a state with liberal policies that have made it a haven for sex offenders which resulted in a higher rape rate. Pushing down the drinking age now will only give predators a larger pool of victims to prey on, and stop cops from arresting people prior to them committing a rape when found plying a teen with booze.
h/t Crime Scene KC