College Presidents for a Lower Drinking Age

College presidents from over 100 American universities have signed a petition urging a revision of the drinking age from 21 to 18, in response to many recent studies which suggest that barring legal alcohol access to college-age students actually fuels on-campus binge drinking.

The Amethyst Initiative, a coalition of university chancellors and presidents which formed last month, is behind the growing movement, and seems to be on the verge of a publicity onslaught:

The statement the presidents have signed avoids calling explicitly for a younger drinking age. Rather, it seeks “an informed and dispassionate debate” over the issue and the federal highway law that made 21 the de facto national drinking age by denying money to any state that bucks the trend.

But the statement makes clear the signers think the current law isn’t working, citing a “culture of dangerous, clandestine binge-drinking,” and noting that while adults under 21 can vote and enlist in the military, they “are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.” Furthermore, “by choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law.”

The petition includes the presidents of such notable schools as Dartmouth, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Tufts, and Middlebury. So far Wesleyan hasn’t signed, but Michael Roth seems to be a fan of good ideas.

Check out Professor Claire Potter’s excellent post on why civilized (legal) collegiate drinking is greatly preferable to the currently prevalent, potentially brain-damaging boozemania.

Links:
Amethyst Initiative: Mission Statement – Rethink Drinking Age
CNN.com: College chiefs urge new debate on drinking age
Tenured Radical: Make Mine a Double, Please

18 thoughts on “College Presidents for a Lower Drinking Age

  1. Sha

    direland – proper identification is what allows the police to accurately enforce the law. Compare your invasion of privacy worries caused by someone knowing your real name with people who have been harmed and can’t prosecute a criminal. Yes, it does matter.

  2. Sha

    direland – proper identification is what allows the police to accurately enforce the law. Compare your invasion of privacy worries caused by someone knowing your real name with people who have been harmed and can’t prosecute a criminal. Yes, it does matter.

  3. Anonymous

    19 makes it illegal for most frosh, especially during the first semester, which is when college students are most likely to go crazy with drinking, because they’re finally away from home and parents.

  4. Anonymous

    19 makes it illegal for most frosh, especially during the first semester, which is when college students are most likely to go crazy with drinking, because they’re finally away from home and parents.

  5. Anonymous

    I like 19 as the drinking age. That keeps it out of the High Schools but makes it legal for almost all college students.

  6. Anonymous

    I like 19 as the drinking age. That keeps it out of the High Schools but makes it legal for almost all college students.

  7. Anonymous

    I mean it’s true, I don’t think having a fake ID is a huge deal because most people will use it to just drink. But I guess if the age goes back to 18, producing fake IDs will cater to high school kids and/or be some sort of “serious” crime.

  8. Anonymous

    I mean it’s true, I don’t think having a fake ID is a huge deal because most people will use it to just drink. But I guess if the age goes back to 18, producing fake IDs will cater to high school kids and/or be some sort of “serious” crime.

  9. Anonymous

    Seriously? That seems so obviously dangerous. Unless you don’t believe in government, at all, any organization that governs has to enforce a social contract, and being able to know who it’s citizens are is extremely important. Now, I know privacy can be needed, but a proliferation of fable identification cards isn’t going to help the hacker-hero who wants to simply conduct transactions in private, it’s going to help the criminal who wants to rip someone off, or get away with a crime. I mean, having a philosophical issue with the government handing out identity cards (and hey, at least it’s a state government that does it) is one thing, but can you seriously not see how if underage drinking is taken out of the equation, people who need false IDs are generally gonna be scary dudes?

  10. Anonymous

    Seriously? That seems so obviously dangerous. Unless you don’t believe in government, at all, any organization that governs has to enforce a social contract, and being able to know who it’s citizens are is extremely important. Now, I know privacy can be needed, but a proliferation of fable identification cards isn’t going to help the hacker-hero who wants to simply conduct transactions in private, it’s going to help the criminal who wants to rip someone off, or get away with a crime. I mean, having a philosophical issue with the government handing out identity cards (and hey, at least it’s a state government that does it) is one thing, but can you seriously not see how if underage drinking is taken out of the equation, people who need false IDs are generally gonna be scary dudes?

  11. direland

    Why is having fake identification a SERIOUS CRIME? Why does anyone need to know my real name, and who does it hurt if they don’t? I’d say fake identification is even less of a problem than underage drinking.

  12. direland

    Why is having fake identification a SERIOUS CRIME? Why does anyone need to know my real name, and who does it hurt if they don’t? I’d say fake identification is even less of a problem than underage drinking.

  13. Anonymous

    I always thought that the 21 drinking age was pretty stupid. Drinking is socially acceptable, and underage drinking is almost always accepted too, socially. As a result of this we basically encorage people to drink, which results in encourigning them to break the law. To make things even worse, if you drink a lot underage, you probably get a fake ID. The huge demand for false identification, which should be a REALLY SERIOUS crime cannot be good for law enforcement. Look at it this way – if the drinking age were 18, cops would know anyone buying or selling fake IDs probably has some fairly serious crime in mind, and can focus on figuring out what that is. Of course, I’m of a similar mind with regard to illegal drug use, so I could be biased.

  14. Anonymous

    I always thought that the 21 drinking age was pretty stupid. Drinking is socially acceptable, and underage drinking is almost always accepted too, socially. As a result of this we basically encorage people to drink, which results in encourigning them to break the law. To make things even worse, if you drink a lot underage, you probably get a fake ID. The huge demand for false identification, which should be a REALLY SERIOUS crime cannot be good for law enforcement. Look at it this way – if the drinking age were 18, cops would know anyone buying or selling fake IDs probably has some fairly serious crime in mind, and can focus on figuring out what that is. Of course, I’m of a similar mind with regard to illegal drug use, so I could be biased.

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