Will 18-Year-Olds Soon Be Able to Drink Up?

I had my first drink during my freshman year of college. The kid who lived across the hall from me was making a packie run, and I hastily told him I wanted a six-pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. When he returned with the candy-colored libation, I drank a few with a friend and went to bed.

1219167821Not all of my underage drinking experiences were so mellow. (To the people my roommates and I woke by drunkenly racing shopping carts down Commonwealth Avenue at 1 a.m., I apologize.) But I never really posed a danger to myself or others while I was imbibing, so the Amethyst Initiative’s quest to lower the drinking age makes sense to me.

The initiative is spearheaded by John McCardell, the former president of Middlebury College. He’s been recruiting the leaders of colleges and universities around the country in the hopes of starting a debate about lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18. Locally, Tufts University, Clark University, Endicott College, Nichols College, and the New England Culinary Institute (!?) have signed the Initiative’s statement.

Of course, Mothers Against Drunk Driving is livid, calling for parents to reconsider sending their children to the schools with presidents that support changing the drinking age.

“As the mother of a daughter who is close to entering college, it is deeply disappointing to me that many of our educational leaders would support an initiative without doing their homework on the underlying research and science,” said [MADD National President Laura] Dean-Mooney. “Parents should think twice before sending their teens to these colleges or any others that have waved the white flag on underage and binge drinking policies.”

MADD cites a number of sobering (sorry) statistics about underage drinkers getting into car wrecks and drinking themselves to death. But the reason college presidents are willing to risk the ire of protective parents in publicly reconsidering the current drinking age is that most of their students can behave responsibly while drinking.

There are people of all ages can’t handle alcohol responsibly. Remember Yarmouth’s William Rose, who was arrested earlier this month for his 15th drunk driving offense? He is 59-years-old.

Some people know better than to get in a car after drinking, and some don’t. Some people know that they should stop drinking before they require a trip to the hospital, and some don’t. Those who can’t control themselves should get help. But the majority of kids who can enjoy a Natty Light or four without wrapping themselves around a tree shouldn’t be punished for their peers’ actions.