Along with more than 100 college and university presidents nationwide, I have signed my name to the Amethyst Initiative statement. Launched this past July, the Amethyst Initiative is made up of higher education leaders from across the United States who support a thoughtful, measured public debate on lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18.
Alcohol is a pervasive aspect of American campus life, an integral part of student socializing. A significant number of our underage students—men, women, Greek, non-Greek—drink, drink often, and believe they have a right to drink. To them the current law is hypocritical, and its existence undermines the respect that all citizens ought to have for any law.
The 21-year-old drinking age has created a dangerous student culture of clandestine drinking. I believe that young people old enough to defend their country and to vote are old enough to consume alcohol responsibly. The 21-year-old drinking age prevents us from modeling responsible drinking. We need to begin a conversation about the legal age at which people may purchase and consume alcohol.
August 19, 2008