The issues of binge drinking and the drinking age continue to be hot topics on college campuses as the fall semester moves forward. [CR] President John McCardell was in Maine this week for a debate at Colby College – for Thursday night’s event, he debated David Rosenbloom, President of the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse. In a few weeks, he’ll travel south for an event at the University of Kentucky – we’ll keep you posted on those details as the date approaches. For now, here’s the latest roundup of major headlines and news items:
Stories this week:
Lawmakers in Puerto Rico, where the legal drinking age is 18, have voted to adopt one of the lowest legal limits for drunk driving in the world. The House of Representatives voted to lower the blood alcohol limit from .08 to .02 – far lower than any U.S. state, and equal to the limit in Sweden, which has enforced a .02 limit since 1990. One local lawmaker commented that he thought the change was too strict, and would rather see Puerto Rico raise its drinking age to 21. What are your thoughts on the change?
If you missed Kevin Kittredge’s latest piece in the Roanoke Times detailing the way Legal Age 21 has driven social life off campus at many Virginia colleges, you can check it out here.
Tyler Machado, a contributor to the Naked Opinion journal at Saint Michael’s College, offered his take on [CR]’s Get REAL campaign and the drinking culture on campus in the latest issue, arguing,
“The simple truth is that current alcohol policies at St. Michael’s have done nothing to curb alcohol abuse on this campus. Even with the looming threats of being sent to ACT1 for a night or banished to Senior Hall for a weekend, unhealthy binge drinking still happens among students, underage and of legal age alike. In reality, current alcohol policies encourage underage students to drink highly alcoholic drinks as fast as possible so that security/police/Student Life won’t find anything to bust them for. This, of course, is also the most dangerous way to drink and contributes to most of the alcohol problems on this campus.”
The Albany Times Union publishes a blog for high school journalists in its education section, and this week, Jennifer Korszun tackled the issue of the drinking age. She argued that Legal Age 21 has created an unsafe environment for young adults: “Prohibiting teens from drinking in public only forces them to drink in environments without supervision and increases the chances of binge drinking. Drinking in moderation forces maturity upon people.” What are your thoughts on her column?
In other news…
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments today in a case dealing with alcohol advertising in college newspapers. Under current law, Virginia’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control bans all alcohol advertisements in student newspapers. In 2007, the student newspapers at the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech sued to reverse the ban, arguing that it infringes on their free speech rights. A local magistrate overturned the ban, and the state Attorney General’s office appealed the decision.
The Cornell Daily Sun published another article this week outlining the immediate effects of Legal Age 21 on Cornell students after the drinking age was increased to 21 in New York back in 1985. Writer Jasmine Marcus included a comment from state Senator Suzi Oppenheimer, who indicated the federal highway funding penalty forced her vote: “I’m against it, but I voted for it. You can’t ignore millions of dollars in federal highway funds. But it’s a bad law. It breeds disrespect for the law. The youngsters will continue to drink. It’s just another law that will be ignored.”
Join Together announced this week that the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has published its latest update to the Alcohol Policy Information System, an online database of state-by-state alcohol policies. Check out the announcement to read about the 22 state-level changes instituted in the year ending January 1, 2009.
Did we miss something in this week’s update? Let us know in the comments.