Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Amethyst Initiative - Rethink the Drinking Age

The presidents of colleges and universities like Duke, Dartmouth, Ohio State, Syracuse, Tufts, Colgate, Kenyon, Spelman, Johns Hopkins, Morehouse, and Washington and Lee are participants in a movement called the Amethyst Initiative. There are now 114 college and university president participants. reports that this movement began quietly recruiting presidents more than a year ago to provoke national debate about the drinking age. They are calling on lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18, saying current laws actually encourage dangerous binge drinking on campus.

"This is a law that is routinely evaded," said John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College in Vermont who started the organization. "It is a law that the people at whom it is directed believe is unjust and unfair and discriminatory."

Mothers Against Drunk Driving says lowering the drinking age would lead to more fatal car crashes. It accuses the presidents of misrepresenting science and looking for an easy way out of an inconvenient problem. MADD officials are even urging parents to think carefully about the safety of colleges whose presidents have signed on.

"It's very clear the 21-year-old drinking age will not be enforced at those campuses," said Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of MADD.

Both sides agree alcohol abuse by college students is a huge problem.

Research has found more than 40 percent of college students reported at least one symptom of alcohol abuse or dependence. One study has estimated more than 500,000 full-time students at four-year colleges suffer injuries each year related in some way to drinking, and about 1,700 die in such accidents.

Amethyst Initiative College & University Presidents

President Vincent Maniaci, American International College

President Jerry M. Greiner, Arcadia University

President Ronald Slepitza, Avila University

President Elizabeth Coleman, Bennington College

President Scott D. Miller, Bethany College

President Bobby Fong, Butler University

President David Wolk, Castleton State College

President Mark J. Tierno, Cazenovia College

President Carmen Twillie Ambar, Cedar Crest College

President Esther L. Barazzone, Chatham University

President John Bassett, Clark University

President Anthony G. Collins, Clarkson University

President James R. Phifer, Coe College

President Rebecca S. Chopp, Colgate University

President Robert Hoover, College of Idaho

President Mary Pat Seurkamp, College of Notre Dame of Maryland

President Frank Miglorie, College of St. Joseph

President Richard Celeste, Colorado College

President Dennison W. Griffith, Columbus College of Art & Design

President James E. Wright, Dartmouth College

President G. T. Smith, Davis & Elkins College

President William G. Durden, Dickinson College

President Robert Weisbuch, Drew University

President Richard Brodhead, Duke University

President Joseph R. Fink, Dominican University of California

President Donald R. Eastman III, Eckerd College

President Theodore Long, Elizabethtown College

President Thomas Meier, Elmira College

President Richard E. Wylie, Endicott College

President Jeffrey von Arx, Fairfield University

President Janet Morgan Riggs, Gettysburg College

President Sanford J. Ungar, Goucher College

President Jack Ohle, Gustavus Adolphus College

President Joan Hinde Stewart, Hamilton College

President Walter M. Bortz, Hampden-Sydney College

President Ralph J. Hexter, Hampshire College

President Susan DeWine, Hanover College

President Nancy O. Gray, Hollins University

President Richard B. Gilman, CSC, Holy Cross College (IN)

President Barbara Murphy, Johnson State College

President John J. Bowen, Johnson & Wales University

President William Brody, Johns Hopkins University

President Leon Richards, Kapiolani Community College

President S. Georgia Nugent, Kenyon College

President Daniel H. Weiss, Lafayette College

President Stephen D. Schutt, Lake Forest College

President Thomas J. Hochstettler, Lewis & Clark College

Carol A. Moore, Lyndon State College

President Leonard Tyler, Maine Maritime Academy

President Thomas J. Scanlan, F.S.C., Manhattan College

President Richard Berman, Manhattanville College

President Tim Foster, Mesa State College

President Ronald Liebowitz, Middlebury College

President Frances Lucas, Millsaps College

President Mary Ellen Jukoski, Mitchell College

President Christopher Thomforde, Moravian College

President Robert Michael Franklin Jr., Morehouse College

President Joanne V. Creighton, Mount Holyoke College

President Peyton R. Helm, Muhlenberg College

President Randy Dunn, Murray State University

President Thomas B. Coburn, Naropa University

President Fran Voigt, New England Culinary Institute

President Debra Townsley, Nichols College

President Robert A. Skotheim, Occidental College

President Lawrence Schall, Oglethorpe University

President E. Gordon Gee, Ohio State University

President Phil Creighton, Pacific University

President Loren J. Anderson, Pacific Lutheran University

President John Mills, Paul Smith’s College

President David W. Oxtoby, Pomona College

President Robert A. Gervasi, Quincy University

President Robert R. Lindgren, Randolph-Macon College

President William E. Troutt, Rhodes College

President David C. Joyce, Ripon College

President Gregory G. Dell'Omo, Robert Morris University

President Charles R. Middleton, Roosevelt University

President Pamela Trotman Reid, Saint Joseph College (CT)

President Timothy R. Lannon, Saint Joseph’s University (PA)

President Arthur F. Kirk, Saint Leo University

President Patricia Maguire Meservey, Salem State College

President JoAnne Boyle, Seton Hill University

Vice Chancellor Joel L. Cunningham, Sewanee: University of the South

President Carol T. Christ, Smith College

President Paul LeBlanc, Southern New Hampshire University

President Beverly Daniel Tatum, Spelman College

President Robert E. Ritschel, Spoon River College

President Daniel F. Sullivan, St. Lawrence University

President Harold J. Raveche, Stevens Institute of Technology

President Elisabeth S. Muhlenfeld, Sweet Briar College

Chancellor Nancy Cantor, Syracuse University

President J. Patrick O’Brien, Texas A & M University-West Texas

President Robert Caret, Towson University

President James F. Jones, Jr., Trinity College

President John M. Stamm, Trinity Lutheran College

President Lawrence S. Bacow, Tufts University

President Walter Harrison, University of Hartford

President Louis Agnese Jr., University of the Incarnate Word

President Jennifer Hunter-Cevera, University of Maryland--Biotechnology Institute

President C.D. Mote Jr., University of Maryland--College Park

President Jack M. Wilson, University of Massachusetts System

Chancellor William E. Kirwan, University System of Maryland

President Steven H. Kaplan, University of New Haven

President Geoffrey Shields, Vermont Law School

Chancellor Robert Clarke, Vermont State Colleges

President Ty Handy, Vermont Technical College

President Tori Haring-Smith, Washington and Jefferson College

President Kenneth P. Ruscio, Washington and Lee University

President L. Baird Tipson, Washington College

President Michael Bassis, Westminster College (UT)

President Sharon D. Herzberger, Whittier College

President James T. Harris, Widener University

President M. Lee Pelton, Willamette University

President Lorna Duphiney Edmundson, Wilson College

Read the article about the Amethyst Initiative to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18 here and here.

plez sez: being a former college student (when the drinking age was 18) and a current alumni advisor of an undergraduate fraternity chapter, i have a unique perspective on the drinking age.

Georgia Tech Band & Budweiser Song

in all honesty, i do not recall binge drinking and drunkedness being a big issue during my undergraduate years... one could purchase and consume alcohol openly. to this day, the georgia tech band still plays the "Budweiser Song" between the third and fourth quarters at the football games; everyone bobs up and down to the song (the georgia tech version of the seventh inning stretch).

back then one could go to the frat houses on campus on friday and saturday night, and get free beer dispensed from one of those big ass beer trucks. people would get drunk back then and then go throw up all over the bathroom... that place was a disaster area on the weekends!

soon after i started college, the state of georgia began to raise the drinking age to 21 years. frat houses could no longer serve alcohol at their events. organizations could no longer advertise drink specials at their parties. but guess what? students still obtain fake id's, and older students still buy beer and alcohol for the underage ones, and students still sneak off and get sh*t-faced drunk... and still ralph all over the dorm bathrooms during the weekend!

as an alumni advisor for my college fraternity chapter, i've had to confront drinking issues with a few of the guys. but there are no fewer members now with a drinking problem, than we had when i was in college over 20 years ago!

personally, i feel that instead of criminalizing the behavior, responsible drinking should be emphasized, as it was back then. college freshmen, sophomores, and juniors will drink as long as there are college seniors to buy it for them or as long as they can get fake id's. i agree that the age should be lowered back to 18 and responsible drinking should be emphasized on college campuses.


David Sullivan said...

By raising the age to 21 the government has taken the onus off of personal responsibility and parental responsibility and put it in the hands of law enforcement. We all know that law enforcement is the least effective way to change behavior.

Personally I suscribe to the John Dewey phillosophy of learn by doing. Hoe are you going to learn how to drink responsibly unless you are doing it. Drinbking until you puke is something that needs to happen so you know your limit. When I was 7 my mother gave me a cigaette because I was pretending to smoke. She lit it for me and after a few drags I puked everywhere. It is the only cigarette thats ever touched my lips.

All-Mi-T [Thought Crime] Rawdawgbuffalo said...

when i was growing up it was 18
they changed it when i started grad school in 1988 - whats the big deal

plez... said...

david & torrance,

i think we're all on the same page... plus there isn't an 18-year old alive who wants to drink alcohol who can't get his/her hands on some!

plus college is a time of enlightenment... nothing like having some brew to grease the skids!

Unknown said...

i din't get u.

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More than 100 college and university presidents are calling for lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18. President David L. Boren is not one of them.The Amethyst Initiative, launched in July, encourages presidents and chancellors of higher learning institutions to sign a “Rethink the Drinking Age” statement, which calls for public debate over the effects of the drinking age, according to the Amethyst Initiative Web site.