” Remember the early days of college, when you had to beg someone to purchase alcohol for you so you and your buddies could get drunk? Or concealing a case of Natural Light in your book bag and sneaking it into a dorm? By the way, you weren’t fooling anyone.””
Remember the early days of college, when you had to beg someone to purchase alcohol for you so you and your buddies could get drunk? Or concealing a case of Natural Light in your book bag and sneaking it into a dorm? By the way, you weren’t fooling anyone. Everyone knows that college kids don’t walk around in groups at 11 p.m. on a Friday night with books in their bags.
Well, the time may be coming where freshmen can carry their Steel Reserves and Mike’s Hard Lemonades into their dorm rooms proudly, without having someone open a back door so they can avoid the eyes of their Resident Assistant or configuring an elaborate pulley system to hoist four cases of Bud Light to their 9th story room.
Dubbed the Amethyst Initiative, over 100 college presidents (including those from Ohio State, Duke, and Dartmouth) are calling into question whether the minimum legal drinking age should be lowered from 21 to 18. Let the legal beer pong begin!
Of course, this isn’t a new issue. We’ve all heard the classic argument: if you can go and die for your country, you should be able to drink a beer. Add on to that voting and supporting the very concept our country was founded upon, being tried as an adult in a court of law and going to an adult prison, serving on a jury, getting a real credit card, playing the lottery, etc., and it becomes increasingly confusing as to how so many factors define us as adults at 18, but not adult enough to have a glass of wine at dinner.
Our younger alcohol enthusiasts out there are probably in full support of the chance to legally purchase Jagermeister, but there are those out there who aren’t sure that it’s the best idea in the world.
Naturally, 18-year-olds buying beer could lead to more binge drinking and drunk driving. Not necessarily, but it could. Keep in mind that there are establishments that care more about revenue than upholding the law.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving surprisingly says that lowering the legal drinking age will lead to more fatal car crashes. Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of MADD, has even called the integrity of the law enforcement officials on those campuses supporting the initiative, saying, It’s very clear the 21-year-old drinking age will not be enforced at those campuses.
In 1984, states complied with a federal mandate that would reduce federal road funding to states that permitted alcohol consumption by those under the age of 21. Since then, studies have been done that have shown that there are fewer alcohol-related car crashes and fewer high-school students consuming alcohol.
However, a study done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2003 showed that overall rates of binge drinking amongst underage people has increased. So how effective is the lower drinking age?
At the heart of this debate is not some arbitrary age that lawmakers decide is reasonable to legally consume alcohol, but education about the consequences of binge drinking and how to drink responsibly, which, if done right, could do more to deter binge drinking than simply having a lower legal age that rarely prevents minors from consuming alcohol.
Consider this: an 18-year-old illegally obtains alcohol and is encouraged to binge drink at a random house party and drunkenly stumbles home to try to hide the fact that he or she is wasted, or that same person legally buys a 12 pack and can call a parent to pick them up or who can mentor them on safe drinking.
Or, a required 1-credit college course on the risks of irresponsible drinking and alcoholism. It’s not a perfect solution, but remember that education, not abstaining from something, is the key to making responsible decisions.
18-year-olds are going to get alcohol if they want it, and there’s no getting around it. Let’s make it legal for them to do so, and let’s do what we can as responsible adults to see that it’s done safely.