The following op-ed piece is from today's edition of USA Today. I received an email with an link to this article from The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding. I thought it was interesting to hear different sides of this debate. I am inclined to agree with statements of being able to serve in the military, vote, etc. as equal footing as the legal drinking age, however the argument that making something legal will allow it to loosen its stranglehold on society or a portion of society. All one has to do is look at the tobacco industry or perhaps a better example would be pornography. Just because something is out there and legal for people of certain ages to do doesn't make it good, beneficial or moral for anyone!! I'm not endorsing the consumption of alcohol by anyone, but I have witnessed far too many 18-20 year olds make poor, dangerous-even life-threatening decisions under the influence of alcohol to support the college presidents and this push to lower the legal drinking age.
Don't lower drinking age; teach value of waiting
Derek Melleby, director, College Transition Initiative, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding - Elizabethtown, Pa.
The recent movement by some college presidents to reduce the legal drinking age to 18 is shortsighted. Trying to lower the drinking age is a superficial response to a deep issue ("College presidents want lower drinking age," USATDOAY.com, Aug. 18).
(Photo - In praise of drinking: The Booze News, a satire, was founded by Derek Chin and Atish Doshi in 2004 at the University of Illinois / Dan Gill, AP)
It is unlikely that the law would be changed, no matter how many college presidents join this movement. So why are they getting involved?
Know this: Not all students go to college to drink. I've talked to countless students across the country who long for their college experience to be different. They are developing virtues of delayed gratification, self-control and sacrifice. They are students who want to think more deeply about the goal of education and the meaning of life. Some are students who have been hurt by the effects of alcohol abuse. Many didn't mind waiting a few years to drink legally and have learned to do so responsibly.
Developing students such as these will require college presidents with the moral clarity and courage to make strong decisions about what is acceptable behavior at their colleges.
What is needed is an atmosphere on our nation's campuses conducive to shaping students' character so that waiting to drink until the age of 21 wouldn't seem like such a sacrifice.
Colleges and universities used to pride themselves on fostering a countercultural ethos. Today, what would be more countercultural than a college or university committed to educating students to be responsible and virtuous?
Students are mature
David N. Laband, Professor of economics and policy, Auburn University - Auburn, Ala.
As a 27-year university professor with a reputation for not being drinking buddies with college presidents, I support 100% the college presidents who have proposed that the drinking age be lowered from 21 to 18.
I routinely discuss drinking behavior with my students. They are, to say the least, candid. They are mature enough to be asked to risk death in Iraq or Afghanistan, mature enough to vote, mature enough to sign contracts, get married, drive automobiles, but not mature enough to have a beer?
This is oxymoronic and, therefore, insulting.
In response, they simply evade the law, with sometimes dangerous consequences. For example, because students are not permitted to bring alcohol into Auburn University's football stadium, they either front-load their consumption before entering a game or sneak in smaller containers of considerably more potent alcohol.
Either way, from a health standpoint, the resulting alcohol abuse must be much more damaging than the casual consumption of beer that occurs when the individual does not feel like a criminal. Consumption of four or five beers over several hours, in addition to a couple of slices of pizza or other food, has a much lower toxicity impact on an individual.
The Europeans have it right with this one: They treat alcohol consumption by young people as a normal activity and, so far as I am aware, their colleges and universities are not plagued by destructive binge drinking.
Limit change to beer
Frank Glamser - Hattiesburg, Miss.
The university presidents who have recommended a discussion of lowering the legal drinking age are on to something if the change is limited to the consumption of beer.
Drinking has been an integral part of college life for centuries. Attempts to suppress it have driven drinking underground to private spaces where abuse is common and unobserved by people in authority. It also might be increasing the interest in hard liquor, which is easily transported and hidden.
It would be much better if students were consuming beer in a campus pub or commercial establishment where behavior could be monitored to some extent. Also, beer consumption is somewhat self-limiting because of the volume of liquid involved and the tendency to become ill when consumption is excessive. This is unlike hard liquor, which is often the source of alcohol poisoning cases that plague higher education.
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