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Amethyst Initiative

2008-08-19 16:52:35.132473+00 by Dan Lyke 7 comments

The Amethyst Initiative:

Launched in July 2008, the Amethyst Initiative is made up of chancellors and presidents of universities and colleges across the United States. These higher education leaders have signed their names to a public statement that the 21 year-old drinking age is not working, and, specifically, that it has created a culture of dangerous binge drinking on their campuses.

Via. Perhaps founded in 2008, but I've heard the same sentiment from the same sorts of folks for two decades now.

[ related topics: Children and growing up Sociology Wines and Spirits Education ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-08-19 18:24:43.634192+00 by: petronius

Murder is against the law, but murders continue nonetheless. We should just legalize homicide and be done with it, to decrease disrespect for the law.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-08-19 18:30:44.55834+00 by: Larry Burton

I'm all for preparing kids for adulthood as early as possible.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-08-19 19:53:10.427862+00 by: radix

Old enough to die for your country, enter into binding contract as a legal adult, old enough to drink. It isn't any more complicated than that.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-08-19 20:22:36.910271+00 by: Dan Lyke

Petronius, I'd say that this is similar to Texas legislators saying that selling devices to assist in masturbation is illegal, but people are continuing to masturbate... I'll concede that young drunk drivers did appear to be over-represented in alcohol related fatal automobile accidents before the rise of the drinking age, but there may be some other mechanism which allows college administrators to do something other than deliberately turn a blind eye to the teen drinking which is going to happen anyway without turning dorms into draconian police states while still keeping those gains in driving safety, and looking for that seems like a worthwhile process.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-08-19 21:38:50.5091+00 by: JT

I completely miss the point of this website. I've read over all the sections, and all I see is that 21 is not working. Are they trying to raise the age, lower the age, or abolish drinking? It's not clearly stated anywhere, only that 21 isn't working... that being said, why would someone agree to something and sign it unless it was clear what was being done?

Sign here to abolish women's suffrage...

#Comment Re: made: 2008-08-19 22:02:39.832323+00 by: Dan Lyke

JT, I think that we might be able to get Eric to chime in here about academics expressing themselves, but these being college administrators, I'd guess that they're just about up to the task of saying "wahh wahh wahh this isn't working wahh wahh wahh somebody else figure it out wahh wahh wahh". A hundred of them saying something that specific is probably a pretty big leap.

Twenty years ago, I heard the Chancellor at a moderately prominent liberal arts school in the mid-west make the same complaints, the basic issue being that once the drinking age got raised, the school authorities had no options short of the law. Anything less than calling the police, and they were in for all sorts of conspiracy charges or lawsuits. So the only thing the school could do was consciously turn a blind eye to underage drinking. Call the cops and they'd drive students further underground, and probably drive away students and prospective students, don't call the cops and the kids with alcohol problems get worse alcohol problems, but there's no way for the school to step in and say "hey, you're drinking too much, can we help?"

I don't know what the right step here is because, as Petronius alludes to, the rise in drinking age does seem to have lowered the alcohol related traffic fatalities. Keeping that fixed while lowering the drinking age back to 18 probably means all sorts of mass transit infrastructure investment that isn't going to get done any time soon, but as long as the MADD neo-temperance movement marches on unstoppably with nobody saying "wait a minute, raising the drinking age has its problems", we're not going to explore any alternatives.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-08-20 13:00:49.532258+00 by: other_todd

The one sentence on their "Statement" page which comes anywhere close to taking a position is:

"Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer."

I personally think that if you're old enough to be sent to war you are old enough to be able to have a drink, but (beating one of my favorite drums) I believe there is also a problem of supervision, i.e. I don't mind letting 18-year-olds drink so long as they're not just turned loose on the keg, but given some guidance. Of course, guidance is expensive in both money and labor and difficult to do, so no one wants to do it.