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Should the drinking age be lowered or removed?

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Author Topic: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing  (Read 4750 times)

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Offline Sal Atticum

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Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« on: August 23, 2008, 09:52:06 am »
(for the record, I'm 25, and I didn't drink before I was 21).

I've bolded what I found to be the most amusing part of this article.

What do you guys think?  Let's have a poll.

Quote
Area college leaders refuse to sign drinking petition
Susanne Nadeau Grand Forks Herald
Published Saturday, August 23, 2008
More than 100 university presidents and chancellors said this week they wanted to start a national debate about lowering the drinking age to 18 — but the heads of area universities are not among them.

UND President Robert Kelley, University of Minnesota-Crookston Chancellor Charles H. Casey and Mayville (N.D.) State University President Gary Hagen all said they were asked to sign a petition seeking public discussion of the issue but refused.

“Without research, I fail to see how making alcohol available to younger people is a good idea,” Hagen said. “I’m not convinced there’s research that validates a movement toward that. And I don’t think we should be making rules that would put alcohol in young people’s hands easier, especially without knowing all the facts.”

The heads of Lake Region Community College in Devils Lake and Northland Community and Technical College, with campuses in East Grand Forks and Thief River Falls, were not among the signers either, though it’s not clear if they were asked.

Lake Region’s president Mike Bower declined to comment and Northland president Ann Temte did not return request for comment.

The stated goal of the Amethyst Initiative, the organization pushing the petition, is not to lower the drinking age but to start the dialogue about doing so. The signers of the petition proclaimed that “21 is not working.”

Instead, it said, “a culture of dangerous, clandestine ‘binge-drinking’ — often conducted off campus — has developed.”

National studies in recent years rank North Dakota high on the list of states with high frequency of binge and underage drinking. Grand Forks has been in the top 10 in the nation in similar studies.

More restrictions

When Hagen got a letter from the Amethyst Initiative a month ago asking for his signature, his immediate response was one of disbelief.

“I’m not convinced at all that this is a solution,” he said, acknowledging North Dakota’s binge drinking reputation. “It’s a very difficult problem; it’s so deeply seated and has been going on for such a long time. I think most families have been touched in some way with alcohol abuse, and it can be a very serious problem.”

The way to combat the problem is not to make alcohol more available, he said, but to limit access even further.

“I think there are better options,” he said. “More increased penalties for illegal providers. We should have increased funding for law enforcement programs. Education programs starting with younger children — the quicker you can indoctrinate people, have a program that enforces good messages in lives, the more beneficial.”

The state has favored restrictions, as well. Lawmakers, for example, have banned the so-called “power hour,” the hour after midnight when some who had just turned 21 would drink as much as they could.

Where’s the data?

UND spokesman Peter Johnson, speaking for Kelley, said the Amethyst Initiative has not provided any data that would convince UND there’s a reason to lower the drinking age.

“We would be very curious to see what kind of research there would be that would suggest it would be a good thing,” he said. “What’s the argument being made? How’s (lowering the drinking age) going to decrease binge drinking? We’re just not seeing any good data that this is a positive move in any way, shape or form.”

The big issue, he said, is maturity. “It’s pretty tough to say a person at 18 would have the same level of maturity as someone the age of 21.”

UND’s campus is mostly dry, with the exception of private businesses and groups, such as Ralph Englestad Arena and the Suite 49 restaurant and bar.

Still, Johnson said, UND is interested in the outcome of any debate. “We will certainly tune into it, pay attention to the discussion.”

Though Casey, the UMC chancellor, didn’t sign the petition, he indicated mixed feelings.

“I just don’t know,” Casey said. “What we’re at right now, we follow the law. The law is 21, and that’s what people have to follow. That’s what establishments have to follow.”

“Obviously, drinking on campus is an issue, and we do a lot of prevention education on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, trying to raise awareness of some of the consequences,” Casey said. “I think most campuses have been doing that regularly for a number of years. We’re going to continue doing that.”

Binge and underage drinking on his campus, though, are fairly low, he said.

Similar to Johnson’s position, Casey said he’s open to hearing more.

“If it’s about the debate, let’s see if it’s got some merit,” he said. “I think that’s part of what universities and colleges do. They generate some of these discussions.”

“It will be interesting to see what our student representatives have to say,” he said.

Casey would not be the one to get involved, though, he said, because it would come down through the University of Minnesota system.

Online: For more info on the Amethyst Initiative, log on to www.amethystinitiative.org.

Reach Nadeau at (701) 780-1118; (800) 477-6572, ext. 118; or send e-mail to snadeau@gfherald.com.
http://www.grandforksherald.com/articles/index.cfm?id=84890&section=News

I agree with the University Presidents who are in support of this discussion.  This is not a problem with laws, or with kids breaking the laws, it's a problem with education and personal responsibility.  I'm not talking about getting it banged into your head at a young age that alcohol is the devil's drink; I mean that if parents were actually parents and were responsible for teaching their children about alcohol, being able to allow them a glass of wine or a beer at dinner when in high school, and could show by example what was acceptable in society, then I think we would have a lot fewer problems.  This is a cultural issue, not a legal one.  For example, parents will lecture their kids on the dangers of drinking, drinking and driving, and threaten them, etc., but then will go out and get shitfaced at the lake, or on the weekend, or at the bar.  This is definitely a mixed message, and I think we can give kids a little more credit than telling them they aren't old enough to handle things.

Take the Olympics, for example, or any elite competitive event (chess, video games, academics).  There are 16-year-olds competing who know how to discipline themselves, who are old enough to create their own schedules in order to train, and who are probably a great deal more mature than some of the people who are graduating from college.  They are stressing their bodies (or their minds) to the limit in order to win.  Part of this is probably natural talent, but I imagine a lot of it comes from having guidance from a young age about how to think and make decisions.  This isn't the best simile, but hopefully you can see where I'm going.  If we were to ban our athletes from competing in Olympic swimming until they were 21, just because some high schoolers died in a cliff-jumping accident, it wouldn't make sense, but it would be the same case as with alcohol: your kid is going to swim regardless of whether you as a parent say it's okay, so why not go with them to the river and point out the dangers in cliff-jumping?

A drinking age of 21 removes a responsibility from parents who should be responsible for the upbringing of their offspring.  Furthermore, banning alcohol on college campuses just drives drinking underground, and potentially reduces the chance that someone will call 911 if someone gets alcohol poisoning.  I've seen people get trashed before going to the bar, absolutely wasted, not because it's cheaper to drink at home, but because they're under 21 and they need to drink enough "to get through the night."

Removing the drinking age isn't the only solution, I'm sure there are others, and I'd love to hear them.  We could legalize possession of alcohol but keep purchase of hard alcohol limited to 21+, or keep bars limited to 19+.  I've thought for a while that the problems inherent in a 21+ drinking age needed to be solved, and I'm glad that it's University officials who are leading this movement.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2008, 10:13:44 am by Sal Atticum »
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Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2008, 01:14:58 pm »
I would personally like to see more research into this.  You will hear claims from both sides, but you dont usually see any proof to back up that claim.  For example some people say in Europe for example they dont have huge problems with say binge drinking because you can start drinking at a younger age and its not so taboo like it is in our society.  Of course than you have other claims, such as the ones in that article, that lowering the drinking age will just put the alcohol into the hands of those not responsible enough to handle it etc.

I am definitely into looking into the issue further.  I want to see some actual studies done that are peer reviewed to ensure that they are not bias...
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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2008, 01:17:50 pm »
I can agree to some more serious study, but it's going to be difficult to get some good data unless this is tried somewhere in this country...which can't be done with the way the law is structured the way it is.

I think many states would be very willing to consider this, if their federal highway money didn't depend on the drinking age.  That's a separate issue, and has apparently been a very good way for the federal government to control the states without actually ordering them to do anything.
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Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2008, 12:49:31 pm »
I can agree to some more serious study, but it's going to be difficult to get some good data unless this is tried somewhere in this country...which can't be done with the way the law is structured the way it is.

I think many states would be very willing to consider this, if their federal highway money didn't depend on the drinking age.  That's a separate issue, and has apparently been a very good way for the federal government to control the states without actually ordering them to do anything.

Well I guess you found a new underground dissertation project.
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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2008, 03:17:21 pm »
I can agree to some more serious study, but it's going to be difficult to get some good data unless this is tried somewhere in this country...which can't be done with the way the law is structured the way it is.

I think many states would be very willing to consider this, if their federal highway money didn't depend on the drinking age.  That's a separate issue, and has apparently been a very good way for the federal government to control the states without actually ordering them to do anything.

Well I guess you found a new underground dissertation project.

Dude, I'm not saying I'm right and you're wrong.  I just wanted to see what people had to say.
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Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2008, 03:48:24 pm »
I know that.  I was kidding and saying you could do an underground survey ;)
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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2008, 04:03:53 pm »
Ahhhhh.  I'm closed on new projects right now; looks like this would be a good one for a brand new Psychology or Sociology grad student (hint hint).
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Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2008, 11:07:59 pm »
Ahhhhh.  I'm closed on new projects right now; looks like this would be a good one for a brand new Psychology or Sociology grad student (hint hint).

Thought I would offer ;)
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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2008, 11:30:05 am »
NYT
Quote
Colleges and Binge Drinking

Published: September 16, 2008

It’s part of an educator’s job to spark debate, but a group of about 130 college presidents is on the wrong track with its suggestion that the nation reconsider the legal drinking age of 21.

The college executives are right to be alarmed about the binge drinking that besieges their campuses. But there is no proof that easier access to alcohol would solve that problem, and there is strong evidence that college administrations could do a lot more than they are doing to combat the alcohol epidemic.

Lowering the legal drinking age would put more young drunken drivers on the roads and could exacerbate drinking in high schools. There is also evidence that brains still develop up to age 30, particularly in men.

The educators say they are not advocating a change per se, only a “dispassionate debate,” but the intent seems clear. And while they represent just a relative handful of the 3,500 or so college chief executives across the country, they include well-known institutions, like Duke, Dartmouth, Middlebury and Ohio State.

It is not difficult to understand their sense of crisis over binge drinking, in which males consume at least five drinks in a row and females, at least four. Two in five students at four-year colleges binge drink, according to the 14-year College Alcohol Study by the Harvard School of Public Health.

The Harvard researchers indicate, however, that age may not be the chief factor. Their study found a strong link between heavy alcohol use and drinking cultures at many colleges, where there are heavily marketed cheap alcohol, high-volume sellers and weak enforcement of the law by the schools, states or both.

A few schools, including the University of Nebraska and the University of Rhode Island, have taken sensible steps like banning beer kegs, offering housing where alcohol and tobacco are banned and requiring students to take courses on responsible drinking.

Since the drinking age was set at 21 in 1984, research shows alcohol-related traffic deaths among those 18 to 20 years old have declined by 11 percent, even after accounting for safer vehicles.

Certainly, surreptitious drinking can lead to excessive drinking, but that does not justify the college executives’ conclusion that “21 is not working” where binge drinking is concerned. Europe, often cited as an example of controlled use of alcohol by younger people, has binge drinking problems. France, which has long allowed drinking for 16-year-olds, is debating raising the age.

The 21-year-old floor is not the problem. It is the culture of drinking at school.
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Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2008, 12:39:09 pm »
Quote
The Harvard researchers indicate, however, that age may not be the chief factor. Their study found a strong link between heavy alcohol use and drinking cultures at many colleges, where there are heavily marketed cheap alcohol, high-volume sellers and weak enforcement of the law by the schools, states or both.

Well duh, I didnt need research to tell me that.

Quote
A few schools, including the University of Nebraska and the University of Rhode Island, have taken sensible steps like banning beer kegs, offering housing where alcohol and tobacco are banned and requiring students to take courses on responsible drinking.

That may be a good mid point between total bans and just allowing whatever.

Quote
The 21-year-old floor is not the problem. It is the culture of drinking at school.

Exactly, culture.
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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2008, 12:43:15 pm »
See, it's funny because UND at least is supposed to be entirely dry.
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Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2008, 12:50:33 pm »
See, it's funny because UND at least is supposed to be entirely dry.

That is state wide, too bad it doesn't happen that way.
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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2008, 07:14:18 pm »
Quote
The Harvard researchers indicate, however, that age may not be the chief factor. Their study found a strong link between heavy alcohol use and drinking cultures at many colleges, where there are heavily marketed cheap alcohol, high-volume sellers and weak enforcement of the law by the schools, states or both.

Well duh, I didnt need research to tell me that.

Quote
A few schools, including the University of Nebraska and the University of Rhode Island, have taken sensible steps like banning beer kegs, offering housing where alcohol and tobacco are banned and requiring students to take courses on responsible drinking.

That may be a good mid point between total bans and just allowing whatever.
I'd like to dream that someday we can survive without having a drinking age, and without having to require courses on how to drink responsibly--you would think that, with alcohol use so ingrained in our culture, that certain behavioral aspects would get picked up, but that's not the case.  So rather than parents talking to their kids about alcohol and being there during the initial experiments, the clam up about it, and you get the same results as abstinence-only education: kids doing stupid things and not understanding why they are stupid.

We had a substance-free house at my undergrad where you could apply to live.  Nobody was ever forced to, because that would have ruined it (sending people with drinking problems into a house full of non-drinkers doesn't really work).

Quote
Quote
The 21-year-old floor is not the problem. It is the culture of drinking at school.

Exactly, culture.
[/quote]

Where do we start?  I'm too old to have an effect on my peers, mostly because my peers are all old like me.  I didn't drink until I was 21 (because I didn't feel like I was ready, and didn't want the hassle of avoiding police), and I'd like to think I was setting an example by that, but mostly people probably just thought I was weird.
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Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2008, 05:48:41 pm »
It will be a really hard process.  We would be working against the media and basically what is thrown at kids for years... that drinking alcohol is so cool and you have to do it as soon as possible.

The media really plays it up.  Have there been any big studies on this?

I do like your point on allowing people to have a place that is substance free, should they choose to live there... requiring people to live there would cause a lot of issues I would bet.
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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2008, 11:19:26 am »
Having a sub-free house on campus would be awesome.  I think having theme houses in general would be awesome, but I don't know how it would fly at a big school.  I don't know if we have any sub-free orgs at UND--maybe SADD?  It would be even better if it wasn't strictly religious, which would make it open to people who are more edge than mainstream.

I don't have time to read it now, but this page probably has pertinent references.

Here's someone local who is on your side:
Quote
Trudy Soli, East Grand Forks, letter: Even 21 may be too young to drink
Trudy Soli, Grand Forks Herald
Published Saturday, October 11, 2008
EAST GRAND FORKS — First off, I agree with college student Danielle Thompson of Moorhead hat there is a huge problem with underage drinking (“Lower drinking age to ease problem drinking,” Viewpoint, Page A4, Sept. 25).

But the way to solve it isn’t by lowering the drinking age to 18.

I grew up in the 1970s when the drinking age was 18, and it wasn’t better when it was lower. The only thing this accomplished was that students came to school smelling of alcohol and/or hung over and may have been more apt to drink during lunch breaks.

Also during this time, deaths skyrocketed in connection with alcohol-related accidents. The age was raised back to 21 and shouldn’t be lowered. In fact, maybe we should consider a higher age limit.

If the legal drinking age were lowered to 18, then I truly believe that even younger kids would experiment with alcohol. I don’t believe deaths would be prevented. Instead, I think more deaths would occur with drinking and driving, overindulging and just plain carelessness with alcohol.

I believe the problem with underage drinking isn’t the age itself, but parents and society. A number of parents seem to have the attitude that “kids are going to drink anyway, why not give them a ‘safe’ place to drink” or “kids are going to drink, but we’ll take their keys and then they won’t drive” and so on.

Who is enforcing the rules? Who is enforcing the law? Who are these parents helping? Certainly not the kids.

So when I hear someone saying we should lower the drinking age and have parents teach their children responsible drinking habits, then I have to ask: Why aren’t parents teaching those responsible drinking habits now?

Let’s try fixing the real problem rather than creating more.

Trudy Soli
Link
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Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2008, 04:40:10 pm »
Non-religious substance free housing would be a good step in the right direction.
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Offline Admiral Ackbar

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2008, 10:28:02 am »
IT'S A TRAP!!!!1!

Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2008, 01:40:48 pm »
Fargo is drunk.

You know, I'm sort of sick of the Herald making you pay for old stories.  What's up with that?
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Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Alright, let's talk about this drinking age thing
« Reply #18 on: November 19, 2008, 09:44:22 pm »
Fargo is drunk.

You know, I'm sort of sick of the Herald making you pay for old stories.  What's up with that?

Forum communications seems to think its a good idea.  Of course many other large newspapers know that free is better.
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