Three Oregon university presidents want to see the legal drinking age lowered from 21 to 18 because they believe the current law encourages dangerous binge-drinking on their respective campuses.
Dr. Thomas J. Hochstettler of Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Dr. Phil Creighton from Pacific University in Forest Grove and Dr. M. Lee Pelton from Willamette University in Salem joined about 100 college presidents from across the country in pushing for the change.
Others included the presidents of Duke, Dartmouth and Ohio State. They believe that the legal drinking age simply doesn’t work and that college students will drink no matter what. They said they’ll do so more dangerously when it’s illegal.
“This is not a simple question. But the current answer is also not an effective solution to the problem,” said Richard H. Brodhead, of Duke University.
The presidents signed a statement noting that while adults under the age of 21 can vote, serve on juries and enlist in the military, they are told they’re not mature enough to have a beer.
The group pushing the so-called “Amethyst Initiative” will start publishing newspaper ads in the coming weeks, hoping for serious debate among the public and among lawmakers.
Launched in July 2008, the Amethyst Initiative is made up of chancellors and presidents of universities and colleges across the United States.
“These higher education leaders have signed their names to a public statement that the 21-year-old drinking age is not working and specifically, that it has created a culture of dangerous binge drinking on their campuses,” said the website www.amethystinitiative.org.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving said the initiative is a bad move and lowering the drinking age would lead to even more fatal car crashes.
Oregon Partnership,” a statewide non-profit organization which provides alcohol and drug prevention education is adamantly opposed” to the initiative.
“This is not only a bad idea, this is a horrendous idea. Lowering the drinking age makes the underage drinking problem even worse,” said Pete Schulberg, communications director with Oregon Partnership. “When the drinking age went up to 21, there were fewer alcohol related health problems and fewer fatal car crashes,” he said.
EXTRA – Join Together.org – Advancing Effective Alcohol and Drug Policy
EXTRA – 3 Oregon college heads join the call to lower drinking age, the Oregonian, August 19 2008
OUR COMMENT – College presidents have in locus parentis responsibility to protect underage students from alcohol. This idiotic and embarrassing proposal is about dodging lawsuits, not fostering good decisions around drinking alcohol. Diligent journalists will quickly discover the financial connection between the alcohol industry and these college presidents, and when they do, we expect their respective trustees to demand resignations.
They make make a mistake by attempting to control other persons drinking. If these education leaders were sincere in their concern, it would be more logical, manageable, and thoughtful about the changing character of youth today to raise the age for college admission.