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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

College, university presidents press for rethinking drinking age

18More than 100 college and university presidents nationwide have signed a statement calling for reopening the debate about the minimum legal drinking age.

While the Amethyst Initiative doesn’t advocate a specific policy change, it does state that the 21 year minimum drinking age is not working and has resulted in a dangerous culture of binge drinking. The statement notes that persons under 21 are deemed adults in that they are capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are not mature enough to have a beer, and says it is time for elected representatives to consider whether current public policies are in line with current realities.

The primary target of the Amethyst Initiative is the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which was passed in 1984 and imposes a penalty of 10 percent of a state’s Federal highway appropriation on any state setting its drinking age lower than 21. The group says that this provision has effectively stifled debate over the drinking age, and notes that Congress will need to pass reauthorization of the transportation bill in 2009, and would then have the opportunity to repeal the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. This would not change the drinking age in any state, but would enable state legislatures to consider the subject.

Predictably, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other advocates of the 21-year drinking age say it has saved thousands of lives, and that lowering the age would pass drinking problems to high school students.
J. Silverheels Gray, 9:46 AM


I'd love to know the *real* data, though, on why they think the 18-year-old age would change binge drinking. Honestly, college drinking is more about the freedom to finally drink and almost nothing about the legal age. Everyone has a connection for getting them the alcohol they want or a fake ID. I just don't understand the argument that taking away that barrier will make it any better. I wonder what compelling argument is makign these universities take a stand. Liabilities and cost savings from enforcements perhaps?

(And MADD -- they've lost a lot of support and momentum in the past few years as they've morphed from a true service group into an anti-alcohol organization.)
Blogger braingirl, at 10:48 AM  
For whatever reason, I never hear about binge drinking parties or deaths among non-college kids — that is, those who chose to get jobs right out of high school instead of taking the academic route. Undoubtedly some of them are knocking back a beer or two after work and going to parties on the weekends.

I never have understood why 18-year-olds can vote, enter into contracts, buy cigarettes, marry, serve in the military, but not legally drink. Can't see it changing, though, simply because 18-20 year olds don't have much political clout.
Blogger J. Silverheels Gray, at 7:58 PM  
It's probably the same reason the U.S. still isn't on the metric system. "We know the 21 year limit is arbitrary and stupid, but we don't want to look like those filthy, godless Europeans!"
Blogger Jay, at 2:15 AM  

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