New York Times Editorial: Readers Respond

This morning, the New York Times published several reader responses to last week’s editorial on college binge drinking and the legal drinking age. Matt Hoffman of Boston University took issue with the Times‘ contention that college presidents should “look at their own policies” first and consider “stronger bans on under-age drinking” before trying more creative solutions to the problem. Hoffman wrote:

It seems that the Amethyst Initiative signatories — a group of college presidents who are urging reconsideration of the drinking age — recognize the futility of an outright ban on student alcohol usage and want to address the issue without criminalizing the majority of their undergraduate populations. This is a reasonable goal, regardless of how the drinking age affects 18- to 21-year-olds who do not attend school.

The Times editorial received some attention in other outlets as well, including an opinion piece from Kathleen Reeves, a freelance writer for Campus Progress. Reeves took a detailed look at the studies which the Times editorial board referenced and concluded,

Anyone who’s been to college recently knows that colleges are far from ignorant of the problem of binge drinking. They invest significant amounts of money and time in alcohol education and in the enforcement of the law—and these efforts haven’t worked. To assert that college campuses (and their lack of enforcement) are the problem ignores the question of a solution. Colleges exist, the culture of binge drinking exists there, and serious efforts of colleges to change this culture have failed.

As Reeves noted, the consequences of this binge drinking culture on college campuses are dire: “Binge drinking on college campuses is not going away, and while we decide what to do about it, college students are dying.” We need only to look back at the pages of the Times to see some real-world evidence of these troubling trends. Kathleen Raddatz Quartaro, the mother of Ali Marie Raddatz, a UWM freshman who passed away after a night of heavy drinking back in February, told the Times editors,

The problem is not with the colleges; the problem is with a law that states need to be allowed to change, if they so choose. Let’s see what happens when alcohol consumption returns to public places where adults can model responsible behavior and monitor irresponsible behavior. If that had been allowed, my daughter would probably still be alive.

We’d like to hear from you – these latest studies show that binge drinking on college campuses is not getting any better, and that binge drinking among women appears to be increasing. What else can we do to improve this situation? Check out the rest of the letters in the Times and leave your feedback in the comments.

One Response to “New York Times Editorial: Readers Respond”

  1. Edwin Says:

    Matt Hoffman is wrong because further enforcement on an ageist drinking age is not only wrong but also not a solution. The drinking age must be lowered to 18 along with an alcohol education program for any significant progress to work, thus tougher penalties for “underage” drinking is wrong. University students must always know that binge drinking is alcohol abuse but since the drinking age is ageist, alcohol education along with its practice of alcohol responsibility can’t be implemented for the 18-20 age group.