Editorial: Drinking age debate far from over

By Mallory Terrence
August 28, 2008

The time has come to lower the drinking age! It’s Thursday night; let’s crack a beer and invite some underclassmen to join- legally.

Does that sound like a statement made by college freshmen in hopes that this year will be filled with alcohol and drunken walks back to the dorms? Well, actually it is from over 100 college presidents from across the country.

These presidents recognize that the current drinking age is not working and has driven young adults to a world where binge drinking is accepted and even celebrated on college campuses.

Amethyst Initiative, a group of college chancellors and presidents, has signed a statement that calls on elected officials to rethink and discuss the current drinking age.

As of Tuesday, Aug. 26, the Amethyst Initiative statement has 128 signatures, including presidents from Saint Joseph’s University, Gettysburg College and Arcadia University.

If 17 of the 128 presidents are from the Keystone state, then why doesn’t Pennsylvania step up and lower the drinking age for its residents?

The catch is the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. Passed 24 years ago, this act allows the federal government to withhold 10 percent of any state’s federal highway funds that does not make 21 their minimum drinking age.

As the list of college presidents grows larger, will Dr. George start off her Cabrini career by pledging her support of lowering the drinking age?

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has recently spoken out against the presidents’ statement claiming that lowering the drinking age would cause more injury and fatalities. According to MADD.org, 28 percent of fatal traffic crashes involving teen divers are alcohol related. MADD contests the rates would rise if the drinking age were to be lowered.

In contrast, the presidents believe that because of the current drinking age, students often leave campus to consume immense amounts of alcohol and then travel back to campus when done.

A behavioral change towards alcohol needs to happen among students to break the current drinking habits. The presidents’ group understands there needs to be some type of change and thinks it is hard to get students to stop under-age drinking, when they are allowed to vote, fight in war and be part of a jury.

It is ironic that such a large group of highly respected individuals have recognized that current alcohol education seems to not be working, yet Cabrini College spent last week trying to teach freshmen about the dangers of drinking, rather than teaching the freshmen about how to drink more responsibly.

Even though making 18 the legal drinking age may not be the solution to this country-wide problem, a discussion needs to take place to better understand the root of this problem and what can be done to educate college students in responsible behavior.

This statement may sound like party time to many freshman ears, but don’t count on a change coming anytime soon. In fact we hold many reservations and would urge Dr. George to consider whether lowing the drinking age would really combat binge drinking on college campuses.

Mallory Terrence

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