If there ever was a verification of the need to heed the call of more than a hundred college presidents to lower the drinking age to 18, we saw it Saturday evening in our fine city. As usual, thousands of college age people gathered to celebrate the end of the school year doing what college students do, and as usual, the safety forces did what they think needs to be done to react to an impromptu party that routinely becomes too large and too rowdy.
Wouldn’t it be better to have sanctioned block parties, as is done in other locations, in the street or on campus, where a visitor must show Identification to be allowed in, and where irresponsible drinking can be monitored? Imagine using the tens of thousands of dollars spent every year on law enforcement on a cordon, porta-pottys, bands and trained security to create a party that everyone can have fun and people will not travel from miles around to cause trouble. It won’t happen though, because of our modern day prohibition. No one wants to have a party in which more than half of the students cannot participate as equals.
The Amethyst Initiative, the college president's effort to inform elected officials to rethink the impact of a nationwide drinking age, recognizes that on many levels, this policy is unfair and counterproductive.
"This is a law that is routinely evaded," MSNBC quoted John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College in Vermont who started the initiative, as saying. "It is a law that the people at whom it is directed believe is unjust and unfair and discriminatory." These leaders of some of the largest and most prestigious universities in the country believe that the suppressed drinking age results in binge drinking and the kinds of activities that have become all too familiar in our city.
What is most frustrating is that college is supposed to be a place where young adults go to become mature leaders of our region, state and nation. Instead they learn that while they are old enough to die for our country, our nation, they are not mature enough to drink responsibly.