Center for Ethics and Leadership

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lowering the Drinking Age

Boy, am I feeling old. My gut response to the Amethyst Initiative, a request by 100 college presidents to reopen debate on lowering the drinking age to 18, was, "No." My considered response after reading their reasons is unchanged. They say the illegality of drinking encourages alcohol's abuse. Huh? If I am drinking legally, I will be more respectful of the booze and myself? Because teenagers routinely break the drinking laws, they learn disrespect for the law. What? How many of those college presidents drive at 55 miles per hour on the nation's highways? Have they lost respect for the law? MADD got a very angry reaction from the president of Muhlenberg College after suggesting that the presidents were trying to make it easier on themselves with regard to campus drinking policies, but MADD has a point. The decision between allowing alcohol on campus with penalties for underage violations or instead trying to enforce a dry campus is one of the true headaches of managing college life. The lower age virtually eliminates the problem. I'm sorry, students; I know that you are adults in many ways at 18, but this is not one of them.


  • I feel very strongly that it is important for there to be only one class of citizens in this country. If one is a citizen at 18 then all of the rights due and responsibilities expected of a citizen are conferred upon all individuals at that age. Anytime qualifications segregate citizens into sub-groups, dangerous legal precedents are set that establish and endorse a less than full-citizen designation of a specific group. Underage and binge drinking will exist regardless of the drinking age. The focus on college presidents vs. parents and the underage drinkers themselves is an interesting means of blurring the individual and parental responsibility of an individual and their action(s).

    By Blogger kobe2, At August 23, 2008 11:53 AM  

  • I believe that as parents and as adults, it is our responsibility to protect our children, and no offense intended,but our 18-21 year olds are still our children, struggling with adulthood. I believe that the legal use of alcohol falls into this category. I am not naive in thinking that by keeping the drinking age legally at 18 prevents underage drinking, but it certainly makes alcohol more difficult to acquire for a large segment of the population under age 21. This may not be as true on college campuses, where 21 year olds are amoung the campus population, but that only represents a relatively small portion of the under 21 population. There is no reason to endorse the consumption of alcohol under the age of 21. As far as the idea that lowering the legal drinking age will make the idea less appealing, well having traveled extensively to European countries that have no age limitations, I can attest that immaturity rules and drinking is still very attractive to these youths. I would propose that with research it would be found that this theory would hold no value.

    By Blogger Tammy Gore, At August 26, 2008 7:52 AM  

  • (1) Alcohol abuse is no longer the prominent substance abuse issue that plagues many college campuses. (Trust me.) An alarming number of students have moved on to more exciting drugs, such as cocaine and prescription pills, leaving administrators stumped and in many cases wasting their time focusing on anti-underage drinking campaigns. (Admittedly, there are certainly college campuses in rural areas on which alcohol is the substance of choice.) From this perspective, it doesn't matter what the drinking age is, because alcohol is no longer what is killing our students.

    (2) Go to any college campus during the first two weeks of the Fall semester. Pop into some Freshman dorms on a Saturday afternoon. I can almost guarantee you that the students who are sick(est) with hangover from the night before are those for whom alcohol is novel. Kids who went to a party or two in high school already know what alcohol does and how it makes them feel. It's the kids for whom alcohol--and even the discussion of alcohol--was forbidden in their home environments who go hog-wild with their first real exposure. No, I'm not arguing for the abolition of all drinking-age laws. However, I am arguing that perhaps parents need to focus more on emphasizing the importance of moderation and good decision-making (e.g., not driving drunk), rather than taking an absolutist approach. After all, if "just say no" worked, we wouldn't have these problems...right?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 31, 2008 4:35 PM  

  • A young person suggested to me that there is another industry very interested in a lowered drinking operators. Would one consider it ethically questionable for this faction to exert its influence on our legal system to have the law changed more to their benefit?

    As a side comment, it seems that as a society we are m ore concerned with the excesses of underage drinking but willing to tolerate overage drinking to excess without much ado.

    By Blogger kobe2, At September 6, 2008 12:41 PM  

  • You're still a baby at 18 years of age. This should not be passed just to make life easier on a bunch of old men.

    By Anonymous rap music, At November 19, 2008 3:24 AM  

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