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Bottoms Up? College Presidents Seek Debate On Drinking Age

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Bottoms Up? College Presidents Seek Debate On Drinking Age 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.

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Michelann Michelann 9 years
I think littering is morally wrong because it negatively effects other people's property. It is not your right to trespass in that way on land that is not your own. When you drink or do drugs, you are only harming your own body. It may not be morally right, but it does not harm other people. It is a self-regarding decision, and every adult has the right to make self-regarding decisions. Even when they hurt themselves.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
A lot of people think littering is morally wrong. It goes along with what the Church has been saying recently about abusing the earth being morally wrong.
stephley stephley 9 years
There are people who believe drinking alcohol and drug use are morally wrong. Who thinks littering is morally wrong? Just because you think something is obvious doesn't mean you are correct.
Michelann Michelann 9 years
Killing people,having sex with children, and littering are all morally wrong and effect another human being. Drinking does not. Neither does drug use. But drug prohibition is another issue. Suggesting that college presidents "look at recreational drinking by all adults as something to reconsider" still implies that you feel "recreational drinking by all adults" is something that needs to be reconsidered. That's fairly obvious.
stephley stephley 9 years
Laws against killing other people haven't stopped the killing, drug laws haven't stopped drugs, laws against having sex with children haven't stopped people from having sex with children. Littering laws haven't stopped littering... "I'm not against drinking" refers to me. "look at recreational drinking by all adults as something to reconsider" is in a sentence suggesting a different approach for the college presidents.
Lady-Boleyn Lady-Boleyn 9 years
Prohibition didn't work, it was repealed. The current age doesn't work, it should be repealed.
Lady-Boleyn Lady-Boleyn 9 years
Prohibition actually made the problem worse in the United States if you ask me, and a lot of historical information can back it up. In fact, I believe that is exactly what these presidents are arguing. The policy is simply not working and needs to be fixed.
Michelann Michelann 9 years
"I'm not against drinking" and saying we should "look at recreational drinking by all adults as something to reconsider" are contradictory statements. Maybe you should have included a disclaimer that you consider recreation drinking in general a negative thing. I might not have bothered to argue with you.
stephley stephley 9 years
I generally don't drink - you don't drink and drive, I discovered young that it takes a lot to get me drunk and figured it was dangerous to get used to being able to drink that much. I'm not against drinking, I'm against changing the status quo without a better reason. I understand, based on what Hunter says Gordon Gee's point that the age limit hasn't stopped the underage drinking problem from growing. Prohibition didn't stop drinking or problems either. I just think that rather than giving up, the University presidents would be more useful if they suggested we look at recreational drinking by all adults as something to reconsider.
Lady-Boleyn Lady-Boleyn 9 years
Reading some of these comments I really don't think I can make an argument that hasn't already been said in favor of lowering the drinking age. However, I can bring a new perspective to the discussion. Gordon Gee, The Ohio State University President, is a Mormon. He has never had a sip of alcohol by his own admission, but he signed the petition. He said he did so in order to improve the life of students and to open a discussion. And before some nay-sayer goes and says "Yeah, alcohol improves their life", that is not at all what he means, nor what I believe the other presidents believe. I think Gee's point that by having the drinking age at 21 opens a host of problems by having an "underground" drinking situation. Not to make this all about Gee, but his quote says it so well of the culture we have today, "We realize there is a very serious problem of alcohol abuse on university campuses," Gee said. "I've been president at five universities and every one of them has had alcohol abuse."
Michelann Michelann 9 years
Good point. So I guess you shouldn't be able to drink either then?
stephley stephley 9 years
"I answer for every action I do when I have had a drink. I have chosen for myself (rather than simply looking to the law) that it is not wrong to drink, but that it IS wrong to drink and then drive. I have been responsible by definition." Everyone thinks they're responsible and that they always will be and then one day, one time, they're slightly less responsible than usual. Not every person who gets picked up for driving under the influence is a drooling drunk. Everyone thinks they are responsible, until the one day reality shows them that they are flawed. Which we all definitely are. Everyone has lapses of judgment, no one is responsible every second of every day of their entire life.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"the states are bullied into having a 21 drinking age by the federal government. They are denied federal highway money if they don't comply." WOW, I had no idea!!
Michelann Michelann 9 years
How does "It's the first time I've done it" equal "I think this is responsible behavior"?
stephley stephley 9 years
Well, the feds picked an age and came up with reasons to justify it to the satisfaction of the courts. Most people think they're responsible. Laws often work as backstops when our version of responsible behavior threatens to conflict with society's needs - many people arrested for drunk driving say it's the very first time they've ever done it.
Michelann Michelann 9 years
HF, awesome.
organicsugr organicsugr 9 years
Michelin, that's absurd. The way Dave and I arrive at responsibility is to first find out all federal laws which apply to the situation, and then do whatever they say. Such is the formula for a responsible human being. Anyone who does less is an irresponsible citizen and a child. It is not the place of the citizen to break laws that are unjust. In fact, it is downright childish to question them.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
:drinks: :scared: :drinks:
Michelann Michelann 9 years
Since you seem to be confused, let me define responsibility for you. "able to answer for one's conduct and obligations" or "able to choose for oneself between right and wrong" I answer for every action I do when I have had a drink. I have chosen for myself (rather than simply looking to the law) that it is not wrong to drink, but that it IS wrong to drink and then drive. I have been responsible by definition.
Michelann Michelann 9 years
Steph, the states are bullied into having a 21 drinking age by the federal government. They are denied federal highway money if they don't comply. Take LA, their highways fell into disrepair before they finally allowed themselves to be bullied into changing the drinking age. "young person's own protection" That phrase irks me. If I am an adult, I don't need your protection. And I don't want it. I can protect myself. Furthermore, just because the courts have said something doesn't make it true, right, or just. And don't presume to know how all 18 year olds drink. Your "glass of wine with dinner" example is pretty close to how I drink (although I am not 18 anymore). I don't binge drink because I don't like being drunk. But it wouldn't matter if I did. Once I have been deemed "adult", I will make my own health-related decisions. UnDave, "Drinking alcohol is not a right, it is a priveledge." That's ridiculous. It is every adults right to make self-discerning decisions. In a free country, they do not punish an entire group of people because a portion of that group decides to act irresponsibly.
organicsugr organicsugr 9 years
I too define responsiblity by looking to my law makers to decide. Surely not decisions made by self-regarding adults that do not inherently harm others.
organicsugr organicsugr 9 years
I'm with UnDave. Breaking the law for the sake of liberty or the pursuit of gratification is childish. That'll take John Locke and Thomas Jefferson down a notch. Adults don't do this sort of thing.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I'm sorry I had to leave, work calls. "We need to pick an age at which people are adults and responsible for their own decisions." We have, it's 18. "But if 18 year olds are deemed responsible enough to vote(and thus make hugely important decisions), why are they not responsible enough to make good drinking decisions?" More often than not, 18yr olds who drink aren't drinking responsibly. It's not because it's illegal, it's because they choose not to be responsible "Drunk driving is already illegal. We should prosecute it when it happens. But violating the rights of adults is not a reasonable way to prevent accidents." Drinking alcohol is not a right, it is a priveledge. "We should not punish people who are otherwise adults for doing adult behaviors responsibly." Adults don't break the laws. Breaking the law for self gratification is incredibly childish.
stephley stephley 9 years
Courts have said you can call someone an adult on one hand and deny them rights on the other for several reasons - the higher drinking age has withstood constitutional challenges because: * drinking alcohol is not a "fundamental" right guaranteed by the Constitution, * age is not inherently a "suspect" criteria for discrimination (in contrast to race or ethnicity, for example) * using the drinking age to prevent highway crashes has a "rational basis" in available scientific evidence. * The higher drinking age does not cause a permanent disability, but is only a temporary postponement of a specific behavior for the young person's own protection. States have broad powers to regulate the distribution and use of beverage alcohol under the Twenty-first Amendment, which ended Prohibition. Therefore, the drinking age, like other alcohol-control regulations, has a "strong presumption of validity," according to courts. I would support allowing 18-year olds to vote but not join the military until they're 21. If we were talking about a glass of wine with dinner or beer at a barbecue, I'd feel differently. But that's not how 18-year olds drink.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Apparently, when it comes to the right to booze, bipartisanship rules the day ;)
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