Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Epidemic of Drinking Problems on College Campuses

Proposed solution: One hundred college and university presidents nationwide recommend LOWERING the drinking age.

-- From "Colleges: Drinking age 'not working'" by Stephen Kiehl, Baltimore Sun Reporter 8/19/08

Top university officials in Maryland - including the chancellor of the state university system and the president of the Johns Hopkins University - say the current drinking age of 21 "is not working" and has led to dangerous binges in which students have harmed themselves and others.

"Kids are going to drink whether it's legal or illegal," said Johns Hopkins President William R. Brody, who supports lowering the drinking age to 18. "We'd at least be able to have a more open dialogue with students about drinking as opposed to this sham where people don't want to talk about it because it's a violation of the law."

Each state has the authority to set its own drinking age, but in 1984 Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which says that states with a drinking age lower than 21 will lose 10 percent of their federal highway money. After that law passed, all 50 states raised their drinking age to 21.

"We have this law that in effect prevents any state from exploring new ways of addressing the issue," said William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the Maryland state university system. "We have a crisis on our hands. We need some new ideas and new thinking."

Advocates of the 21-year-old drinking age say it has saved thousands of lives. They say lowering the age will pass the drinking problem down the line to high school students and that national surveys have found the public supports keeping the age at 21.

[Maybe we should take the advice of an experienced teenager on this issue:]
Katie Buckheit, 19 and also a junior, said if people were exposed to drinking at a younger age, they would be more mature about it. "Maybe I'm being idealistic, but in Europe you can drink once you can see the bar," she said. "I think we should maybe take a lesson from what other countries are doing."

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