Drinking age 18

If you look around at college parties it seems as if everyone is drinking. Actually you are probably right, but over half of those people drinking are also under the legal drinking age. Drinking is one of the main forms of entertainment for the typical college student. The only problem with drinking being the main form of entertainment is that half of the students in college or 20 years or younger. This seems to be a problem all over the country and a debate has started to see whether or not lowering the drinking age would be a reasonable solution to keep students from over drinking.
Many leaders at different universities such as Bill Jordan, a member of the Board of Trustees at the University of North Carolina, and Ruth Ings, a professor at Indiana University, believe that lowering the drinking age would solve many problems occurring at colleges today (Hochberg). Along with these leaders are the KU Senators at Kansas University who are trying to gain support from universities across the country for their resolution to lower the drinking at from 21 to 18 (Miller). In agreement with all of these people and groups are the underage students of these universities that feel rejected because they can not participate in what the rest of the older students on the campus are doing to enjoy themselves.
There are also a few groups that are strongly opposed to lowering the drinking age such as Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (Advocates). Virginia Attorney General Richard Cullen posses a good argument that if the drinking age is lowered then it would be easier for people to obtain fake ID’s if they only had to look like they were 18 years of age (Hochberg). Another bad idea for lowering the drinking age is because you may now start to get kids at the ages of 14 and 15 asking 18 year olds to purchase them alcohol so they can have a ‘good time’.
There are many other reasons as to why lowering the legal drinking age is being considered other then that students between the age of 18 and 20 on college campuses want the privilege to drink. More serious cases such as that of Mr. Cureton, an 18-year-old freshman at the University of North Carolina whom was arrested for driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.14. Mr. Cureton was almost double the legal limit, 0.08 percent, serving as a major hazard to other drivers on the road at the same time (Wald). If students are afraid of calling home for a ride they may try to drive themselves, resulting in more damage then they may realize at the time. But if the drinking age was lowered then they student would not get into legal trouble for calling a parent or another adult for a ride home.
Fraternities seem to be having the most problems with the legal drinking age being at 21 as the Theta Chi chapter at the University of Georgia demonstrated last year. Henry Delauney, 19, of Lafayette, La., went into intensive care to be treated for “excessive alcohol consumption.” Also a pledges from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Louisiana State University died after nights of binge drinking. Scott Kruegen, 18, of Orchard Park, N.Y., died three days after he was discovered in his basement room at the phi Gamma Delta house at MIT. Benjamin Smith, 20, of Covington, La., died from “acute alcohol poisoning” after a drinking binge at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house in Baton Rouge, La (Harper). I believe that if the drinking age is lowered then the students that are now underage will not feel as if they have to go on drinking binges and seriously endanger themselves.
All of these reasons add to the argument of the people and organizations that believe that lowering the drinking age is a good idea. Sheila Ahern is a journalism junior at Marquette University that recently turned 21 and wrote about her college experiences and view in the Tribune, the Marquette University newspaper. Ahern argues that college students are adults that are living away from parents for the first time in their lives and if they are told not to do something, that is exactly what they are going to do. Students at colleges are divided into two very distinct groups The Legal Drinkers and The Non-Legal Drinkers. If the legal drinking age were to be returned to the age of 18 then the non-legal drinkers would be able to get away from the fraternity houses and start hanging out with the legal drinkers at the local bars. I believe that Sheila has perfectly described what is happening at college campuses with the legal drinking remaining at 21.
Other more forceful groups are also showing their position and pushing to change the law back to the age of 18 like it was in the 1980’s. The University of Kansas Student Senate passed a resolution on February 18, 1998 stating that the alcohol drinking age should be lowered from 21 to 18. KU senators John Colbert and Sam Pierron introduced the legislation and said that their main goal is to gain support for their resolution at universities across the country. They believe that when the law changed from 18 to 21 society did not change with it, which makes the drinking age a joke. Pierron stated, “Drinking is still part of the college experience therefor the law criminalizes a normal action.” The KU senators do not see any changes on the state level, but they are looking for a K-State senator and another school to sponsor their resolution in order to move upward (Miller). If other schools look into lowering the drinking age and start fighting for it like Kansas University is then this dream may just become a reality. National Public Radio’s Adam Hochberg reports from Chapel hill, North Carolina that some college officials are calling for the lowering of the legal drinking age. In his interview he talked with Bill Jordan who said that students have told him that they would drink less if they had the ability purchase beer whenever they wished. Students feel that they have to drink as much as they can consume when they are drinking because they don’t know when the next time is that they will be able to drink. This results in binge drinking and sends students to the hospital, but all of this can solved if the drinking age was lowered so 18 to 20 year olds can drink whenever they feel like it.
One of the most pressing groups against lowering the alcohol drinking age is Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD). MADD is working in conjunction with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety to make a statement in response to the published comments by Peter Coors. Coors is the vice chairman and CEO of Adolph Coors Brewing Company whom suggests that lowering the drinking age would combat underage drinking and reduce alcohol-related problems among the nation’s youth. “Since 1985, the nationwide 21 drinking age law is credited with saving more than 10,000 lives of Americans between the ages of 15 to 20,” argues a MADD representative. The final statement made by MADD and Advocates was, “It is irrational and dangerous to even suggest that lowering the drinking age would reduce alcohol use and traffic deaths among our nation’s youth.”
In addition to groups like MADD and Advocates, individuals are also fighting to keep the alcohol age the same and have good arguments to back themselves up. Virginia Attorney General Richard Cullen agrees that lowering the legal age might reduce college binge drinking but he still opposes changing the law. Cullen said, “..any benefit that’s seen on college campuses from a lower drinking age likely would be outweighed by an increased substance abuse problem in high schools.”
It seems to me that there are many more people for changing the law back to the age of 18. National statistics found that more than 70 percent of college students are drinkers and an overwhelming majority of these students are under the age of 21 who consume alcohol regularly (Hochberg). If everything keeps going on the way it is with underage students drinking at college then it doesn’t seem that having the legal age at 21 makes any sense. Nobody that is underage pays any attention to the law and is going to drink whether or not it is legal for them.
Hopefully the law can be changed and tested to see if it will cure some of the problems on college campuses. The law doesn’t even have to be changed for the entire state. Maybe only college towns can comply with this law and reduce the drinking age at the local bars to the age of 18. If the law is changed, people will now learn to drink responsibly in the presence of adults and not be forced into drinking all that they can to fill the gap until their next drink. Until the law is changed the non-legal drinkers must clang on to their fake ID’s in order to hang out in the bars or they must stick to partying at the local college fraternities.
Bibliography:
Works Cited For Drinking
Advocates Home Page. “Safety Advocates and MADD Respond to Coors Suggestion to Lower the Drinking Age.” 11 Sept. 1997. http://www.saferoads.org/press/97/age21.html
Ahern, Sheila. “Legal Drinking Age Leads to ‘Arms Wrapped Around Toilet.’” Tribune Online @ marquette.edu. 1997. http://www.mu.edu/stumedia/tribune/archive/97-12-04-Tribune/content/v-legal.html
Harper, Robert. “Alcohol Overdose Probed.” Athens Banner-Herald (GA). 3 Oct. 1997. Newsbank (1997).
Hochberg, Adam. “Carolina Drinking Age.” National Public Radio.13 Dec. 1997. News: Domestic.
Miller, Kellee. “KU Senators Encourage Lower Drinking Age.” Student Publications Inc. 1998. http://collegian.ksu.edu/issues/v102/sp/n105/news/news-drinking-miller.html
Wald, Matthew. “Tough Action on Drunken Driving Pays Off.” New York Times. 26 Nov. 1997: A1. New York Times Ondisk. CD-Rom. UMI-Proquest 1998.