Testimonial #20

“Underage drinking and the futility of Legal Age 21 has been a concern of mine for 20 years — since I saw the negative impact on my own college campus. I attended a small liberal arts college in the mid-1980s. When I began college (in Pennsylvania) in 1984, I believe the State had recently adopted Legal 21. However, the college administration and campus police turned a blind eye to drinking on campus as long as parties were not out of control, students were not drinking and driving, and other illegal activities were not occurring. This situation presented inherent contradictions — an object lesson in “some rules are made to be broken”. However, the social life was balanced — light social drinking occurred in public, and friends and older students kept an eye on those that might have a tendency to abuse alcohol. There was alcohol abuse, but not nearly as much as began to occur during my senior year, when the “crack down” began. The “crack down” was largely driven by insurance companies, who, scared by a few alcohol related deaths on some campuses, threatened to pull policies or increase premiums if colleges didn’t have strict no tolerance policies for alcohol. I watched as the social life degenerated to include small groups binge drinking behind closed doors, then wandering around looking for large (now largely non existent) social activities or just never making it out of their dorm rooms — often adding illegal drugs to the alcohol binges. A few years after I graduated, we had our first alcohol related death on campus.

“I studied at the University of Bremen during the summer of 1986. If I recall correctly, the legal drinking age was 16 at the time. People certainly enjoyed their beer in Germany, but, despite attending many social events, I never encountered a chugging contest, people doing “shots”, and certainly no drunk driving. Binge drinking was completely “uncool’ there — certainly not a part of the student culture.

“It is inexplicable to me that the same federal government that courts 18 year-olds to join the military, carry a gun, and die for our country doesn’t trust them to handle alcohol responsibly. Am I to believe that the young Marines completing basic training celebrate with a tall skim latte?

“You have inspired me to take some action. This week, I am attending a fundraiser for major donors of my undergraduate alma mater. I intend to discuss this issue with the most senior college official at the event (hopefully the college President) and will direct them to your web site if they aren’t already aware of your organization. I will also alert my Congressman and Senators of this issue the next time they solicit a donation from me for their reelection campaign.”


Bethesda, MD

One Response to “Testimonial #20”

  1. Robert Says:

    I completely agree with you Amy! This modern day prohibition has gone on long enough. Moving from North Carolina to England in 2000, I noticed a big difference when it came to drinking alcohol. Yes, they have their problems, but in 6 years I can’t remember one instance when some died of alcohol poisoning. Pubs are just a part of their culture. I think supporters of Choose Responsibility need to start organizing state and local chapters, so they can lobby their Federal and State Politicians on the matter.