A new campaign arguing that the 21-year-old drinking age is not working, and that it “has created a culture of dangerous binge drinking” on college campuses has been signed by an eclectic group of over 100 college presidents, including those of Duke, Dartmouth, The Ohio State University, and Johns Hopkins.
From the Wall Street Journal:
John McCardell, a history professor and former president of Middlebury College in Vermont, is leading the effort. His group, Choose Responsibility, a nonprofit unaffiliated with the college, has received financial backing from money manger Julian Robertson. Mr. McCardell says he receives no money from the alcohol industry.
He argues current laws drive drinking underground, causing more problems than they solve. “The law is out of step with reality,” he says. “The law is so obviously unjust and discriminatory. It ought to at least be the subject of debate.”
But he and the college presidents are taking on powerful constituencies, including some of their colleagues, the top government traffic-safety agency, the insurance industry and public-health authorities, all of which say the higher drinking age saves lives. Even representatives of the alcohol industry say they support current laws.
A college student interviewed for the piece says she cut back on her drinking once it was no longer forbidden:
Elizabeth Pogust, a 21-year-old senior at Middlebury, says she felt pressured to drink as a freshman. Classmates would quaff alcohol in their rooms before roaming the campus on weekends, she recalls. As they got older, she says, she and her peers learned their lessons. “I’ve noticed a definite change in my attitude once it was no longer forbidden,” she says.
What do you think? Is the 21-year-old drinking age part of the problem — or the solution?
Bid to Reconsider Drinking Age Taps Unlikely Supporters [WSJ]
List of College Presidents Who Signed The Petition [Amethyst Initiative]