Archive for the 'drinking age' Category

Cornell President on Student Health

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Cornell President David J. Skorton recently wrote a candid synopsis for the Huffington Post regarding the ways in which colleges can improve the health and wellbeing on their charges. Skorton’s essay focuses on four problem areas for students: high risk drinking, hazing, mental health problems, and concussions (primarily in athletes). Hazing and mental health problems, one could argue, are also linked to high risk drinking.

Skorton claims that although curfews and dress codes have gone by the wayside, colleges must maintain their responsibility to give students freedom within a framework. That is, they must hold students accountable for their actions yet allow students to make their own choices. The problem areas Skorton discusses are fodder for debate on the age of majority and the age in which students can reasonably make their own choices.

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

I recently had a conversation with the father of a college age female. Through the course of our conversation, which turned to college drinking, he noted that he had attempted to “teach” his daughter to drink before she matriculated as a college freshman. While we’re not condoning a behavior that’s illegal in many states (serving to minors), he raised a relevant point about sending young men and women to college. Although he offered his daughter mild alcohol beverages, she seemed disinterested in consuming alcohol. However, he glibly noted that she probably “learned to drink” from her friends when she arrived at college.

College is, for me, a thing of the not too distant past, and I recall vividly the “peer” education that occurred during that first semester. With high school comfortably behind them, the playing field was, in a strange way, leveled for all students–high school drinkers and non-drinkers were suddenly socializing in the same space. But the social setting looked nothing like that which had been left at home. There was no risk of someone’s parents busting a party, a beer was never too far out of reach, and drinking practices like “tequila circles” (where a handle is passed around and everyone takes a pull) pervaded the campuses my friends and I inhabited.

Whether or not students drank in high school was really irrelevant as college really was a whole different animal. And problems began to present themselves when students inexperienced with most aspects of living away from home began “teaching” their friends how to drink. It was an initiation of sorts, but an initiation by an equally inexperienced initiator. It seems strange, when I consider it, that a parent might spend more time teaching their son or daughter how to do laundry than they do how to drink. Unfortunately, parents are disenfranchised from showing their children how to experience alcohol safely and responsibly. It is not impossible to ruin a load of laundry, but it’s (obviously) incomparable to the dangers that can follow irresponsible alcohol consumption.

[CR]’s proposal supports a drinking license, and it supports parents. Take a moment to read the proposal (found here) and let us know what you think.

Why lower the drinking age now?

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

In the more than two decades that have passed since its implementation, the 21 year-old drinking age has created a climate in which terms like “binge” and “pregame” have come describe young peoples’ choices about alcohol; in which the law is habitually and thoughtlessly ignored by adolescents and adults alike; in which colleges and communities across the nation are plagued with out-of-control parties, property damage, and belligerent drunks; in which emergency rooms and campus health centers are faced with an alarming number of sometimes fatal cases of alcohol poisoning and overdose on weekend nights; and in which the role of parents in teaching responsible behavior around alcohol has been marginalized and the family disenfranchised. Maintaining status quo in America today is not an option.

We are faced with a law that is out of step with our cultural attitudes towards alcohol, one which encourages violation and breeds disrespect. Historically, we know that during the Vietnam War the 26th Amendment in 1971 provided 18 year-olds the right to vote, the age at which one could be drafted to fight in the war. This constitutional recognition of 18 year-olds as consenting adults was fundamental for guaranteeing the right for 18 year-olds to drink. Again, a quarter century later, we are engaged in a war where many of the soldiers currently serving abroad are under the legal drinking age of 21. And while that historical parallel itself does not provide justification for changing the drinking age, it makes strikingly clear the poor logic behind the assumption that at the age of 18 one is too immature to consume alcohol. If the drinking age were lowered, it would signal a transformation in the relationship our society has with its young adults. Besides engendering greater respect for the law, a lower and more easily enforced drinking age would offer alternative choices for parents and college campuses around the country in shaping responsible drinking behaviors and encouraging informed decisions about alcohol use.


Friday, June 29th, 2012

I was making a beef carbonade for supper, the recipe called for red wine as a flavor ingredient. When my son saw me measure and pour the wine into the stew pot, he began crying and hysterically yelling that he would not eat the stew because I had put alcohol in the cooking pot and I was going to kill our family. He said his teacher had told him all alcohol was poison. I was outraged then…and still am!


Britain’s New Strategy

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Great Britain, like the United States, realizes that binge drinking does not exclude any age group or demographic.

Prime Minister David Cameron seeks to oppose his country’s problems with responsible drinking with a higher tax on alcohol, as cited by Rupert Wolfe-Murray’s article “Where is Britain’s New Alcohol Strategy”.

This tax targets irresponsible behavior in all demographics instead of targeting a specific age group.

Cornell Student Reflects on Campus Drinking Culture

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

An op-ed from the Cornell Sun, Cornell’s student newspaper, reflects on the school’s social culture and on the importance of creating safe spaces where alcohol is consumed.

The article, mentioning the Amethyst Initiative, speaks specifically about binge drinking as a result of the restriction of alcohol at student social events.

Experts, students to debate the drinking age

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Barrett Seaman, author ofBinge, and Dr. William Dejong, professor at Boston University School of Public Health, will debate the 21 year old drinking age in an open forum at Sonoma State University on February 13. College students will have the opportunity in this open forum to make their voices heard and to speak candidly about drinking on their campus. Read the full article here.

Face The State: Reconsider the Drinking Age

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Following up on Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner’s appearance in the 60 Minutes segment on the drinking age, the editors of Colorado’s “Face the State” news website have published an editorial in favor of [CR]’s mission. The editors wrote, “now is the time for nationwide conversation. Kids are silently dying under prohibition. For those unconvinced, a simple visit to Boulder on a Saturday night should do the trick.” Their editorial specifically calls on the new Obama administration to address this issue – read the rest of the editorial here.

Drinking Age Enforcement

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Research predicts that only two out of every 1,000 occasions of alcohol use by individuals younger than 21 result in arrest. Even with a five-fold increase in spending, enforcement officials would only raise the chances of catching underage drinkers 1% of the time.

Parents Protect Against Binge Drinking

Monday, December 8th, 2008

A study of 10,271 students in the UK in the online journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy found that when parents provided alcohol to their children in a family environment, children were less likely to engage in binge drinking and experience negative drinking outcomes. This rigorous study confirms cultural evidence from many other countries: drinking alcohol in the presence of parents has a protective affect against binge drinking.