Archive for May, 2012

Parents Who Host

Monday, May 14th, 2012

As the season for high school graduations draws near, young people will shed high school regulations and assume the mantle that accompanies adulthood. Most high school graduates have reached the legal age of adulthood. Thus they can vote, buy tobacco, and leave home for college as the authors of their own destiny.

High school graduation speakers tell the soon to be alumni that they are capable of everything, that the world is their oyster. And yet, in the process of making these adolescents feel like adults, we forget that they do not have the privilege to consume alcohol, or to even learn to consume alcohol responsibly. Diploma in hand, these graduates march across the stage feeling invigorated, and yes, capable, so it’s no wonder that, upon arriving at college, they feel comfortable experimenting with the privileges of “adult life”, alcohol included.

These college freshmen have never been allowed to be taught to handle themselves around alcohol, and perhaps only “learned to drink” from their peers in basements and dark backyards. When parents host parties, they too are breaking the law because they must turn a blind eye instead of supervising and teaching. Binging, vomiting, and violence don’t typically occur beneath the watch of a responsible eye.

Adulthood is offered to high school graduates with the confusing exception of alcohol. A group of people perfectly comfortable with making other mature decisions must revert to clandestine spaces when drinking.

We’re certainly not saying it’s suitable for parents to host anyways or for students to drink anyways. But statistics reveal that most students have their first drink long before high school graduation or college matriculation. They would be much safer if this beverage was under the aegis of a parent instead of a peer.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram published an article yesterday, found here, on this very subject. The author bemoans parents who host parties for underage drinkers. Yet he forgets to provide a common sense solution, which is to shift our laws so that parents may help, not harm, their children.

We’d love to hear what you think about this too. Readers?

Prohibition Facts

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Between 1850 and 1860, during the height of prohibition, beer production tripled from 37 million gallons in 1850 to more than 100 million gallons in 1860. This era of prohibition, unlike the constitutionally mandated Prohibition of 1920-1933, was on state-by-state basis. As the data show, the laws did little to curb the culture of alcohol consumption that was woven into the tapestry of America since its colonial founding.

“We should re-evaluate binge drinking”

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Lafayette College continues to struggle with the loss of 19 year old Everett Glenn, who died during the weekend after drinking excessively on his birthday.

WFMZ news noted that while the entire Lafayette community continues to mourn this loss, the tragedy has led students to reconsider the ramifications of their drinking. Tanner Flanigan said, “I would be surprised if we have an ‘All-College Day’ again, which is too bad…With something like this happening we kinda need to reevaluate the whole binge drinking situation.”

Perhaps this tragedy will compel college students to re-evalute their responsibility and to press their congressmen to re-evaluate MLDA21.

Lafayette College student, 19, dies of alcohol poisoning

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Everett Glenn, a charismatic freshman at Lafayette College, died of alcohol poisoning on Saturday, May 5, 2012. The Huffington Post reported that Glenn was celebrating his 19th birthday just days before the beginning of his final exams. After drinking throughout the afternoon, Glenn returned to his dorm room to sleep where he was later found unresponsive.

While our thoughts are with the entire Lafayette community, and especially with the Glenn family, we are also reminded of the harmful effects of a drinking age that encourages sequestered binge drinking in underage college students.

Our Proposal

Friday, May 4th, 2012

One of my favorite parts of writing this blog is the opportunity to communicate with students who are directly affected by MLDA 21. Answering emails about term papers and speaking to people who express concern also provides the opportunity to challenge a student’s understanding of Choose Responsibility, American drinking culture, and MLDA 21.

To this end, I find that people really don’t always understand Choose Responsibility’s proposal. Sure, we aim to promote responsible consumption by lowering the drinking age in the United States. But our proposed changes do not stop with a quick drop from 21 to 18. Changing only the legal age would not likely provide the desired outcome.

The age at which people are allowed to drink is important, but the opportunity to learn to drink responsibly–especially from parents–is even more important. No one would dream of letting a 16 year old take the keys to the family car without ever having learned to drive with a learner’s permit. Yet, this is what we do with alcohol. Laws in the United States currently allow parents to teach their children to handle a car yet prevent parents from teaching their children to handle alcohol. Consequently, Choose Responsibility supports a series of changes to treat 18, 19, and 20 year-olds as the young adults the law otherwise says they are. Current drinking laws infantilize young adults. We should not be surprised, then, by infantile behavior from otherwise responsible adults. This series of changes would allow 18-20 year olds to purchase, consume, and process alcoholic beverages.

We propose a multi-faceted approach that combines education, certification, and provisional licensing for 18-20 year-old high school graduates who choose to consume alcohol. We envision an overarching program that combines appropriate incentive and reward for responsible, lawful behavior by adolescents, and punitive measures for illegal, irresponsible behavior. In creating a unique approach to alcohol in the United States, we hope to shift the culture towards one where education and responsible behavior are valued by young adults.

You can read more about our proposal, especially the  “drinking license” here.

Underage college deaths

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Eighty-three of the college student deaths between 1999 and 2005 were of underage students. Sobering statistics like this one poke holes in the argument that MLDA 21 prevents underage drinking.

Legal Age 21 has failed utterly at its goal of protecting young people from the dangers of excessive alcohol use. To cite an alarming statistic from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth: 96% of the alcohol drunk by 15-20 year-olds is consumed when the drinker is having five or more drinks at a time. The field of neuroscience tells us that this has devastating consequences for developing brains. Since Legal Age 21, less young people are drinking, but those who choose to drink are drinking more. Young peoples’ drinking is moving to the extremes: between 1993 and 2001, 18-20 year-olds showed the largest increase in binge drinking episodes. This trend should serve as a call to action for parents, educators, and lawmakers, for while moderate consumption represents little harm to young people and may even be psychologically beneficial, excessive and abusive consumption-binge drinking-spells disastrous consequences for our nation’s youth.


Hazing, again

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

In the following article published by The Chronicle of Higher Education, Douglas Fierberg, a lawyer who specializes in representing victims of school violence and misconduct, decries the ongoing pattern of dangerous hazing practices he says are invariably linked to dangerous drinking by fraternity and sorority members and advocates several strong steps he says will better protect college students. Among them: requiring colleges to disclose the record of infractions and penalties accumulated by Greek organizations on their campuses; requiring members of these student organizations to live in alcohol-free housing, and rejecting the system of chapter self-management by these organizations.

While heartily agreeing with attorney Fierberg that hazing and dangerous drinking remain serious problems on college campuses, CR believes that the solutions he proposes would not only be ineffective but also counterproductive. In our view, adding on reporting requirements won’t break the culture of dangerous drinking that already takes place far too often behind closed doors. And while substance-free housing is an appropriate alternative for students who want to voluntarily remove themselves from exposure to the campus drinking scene, it would be unrealistic to impose it on students simply because they choose to join a Greek organization. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, the idea of taking the responsibility of managing their own residential organizations away from students is completely antithetical to a primary goal of college, which is to teach and reward personal responsibility.

We urge you to read this article and draw your own conclusions.