James Hayes-Bohanan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Geography
Revised August 25, 2008
look like I am contradicting myself here, so let me be clear. I
the NIH site because I believe that students should know what really
and how bad excessive drinking can be. I do not like attending wakes
people half my age -- I really do not. At the same time, I recommend
Bryson's article because the NIH, MADD, and others do not acknowledge
a change in the law is a necessary part of the solution.
Some college presidents are starting to agree with Mr. Bryson and myself. As of summer 2008, over 100 college presidents -- including the president of Salem State College -- have joined the Amethyst Initiative. These academic leaders are simply proposing an honest debate about a public policy that clearly is not working. Media coverage of the initiative include the NPR news item Push to Rethink Drinking and a more in-depth report from NPR's Here and Now, entitled Changing the Drinking Age. I recommend all first-year students listen to the latter, in case they think binge drinking makes them look cool to older students.
For those under 21 who still find my position ambiguous, I have this recommendation, which Mr. Bryson tells me he gives his own children: DO NOT DRINK IF YOU ARE NOT OLD ENOUGH. The jail time, loss of campus housing privileges, and other consequences are just too great. See the college's alcohol policy before making any decisions -- it is easy to get kicked out of college! Off-campus parties can get you in just as much trouble as on-campus drinking, as several students of mine learned when they were arrested in February 2008. One of them told me she was "in the wrong place at the wrong time." Of course, she chose to be there, so she was in court with everyone else.
Keep this in mind: The main reason young adults cannot drink legally is that they do not get involved in politics. Please do not complain about the drinking age until you have written at least two elected officials and one newspaper editor about it! You can also join [CR] ChooseResponsibility.org.
Keep its motto in mind: balance | maturity | common sense
|A special note for those who might travel
abroad with me.
If we are traveling to a place where you are old enough to drink, I will not try to prevent your drinking. For one thing, I want you to experience the culture fully wherever you are, and in most places that means a lower drinking age. For another thing, I do not have the desire to manage the lives of my students in such great detail. Finally, when you are studying abroad, you are never driving a car.
If you are drinking while on a study tour with me, however, I will insist that you treat local people and fellow students with utmost respect at all times, that you represent our country and our college well, and that you do not do anything stupid. Otherwise, you might get an early flight home, at your own expense.
|I do not suggest testing the
numbers to the right, but they make some sense. People who drink
responsibly can get their work done. People who drink irresponsibly
The graphic is from the Eight Myths page posted by the Peer Health Education group at CalPoly. Read the page to read how fellow students react to these common excuses:
|Although each state sets its own
drinking age, all states have set that limit at 21. This is because
President Ronald Reagan signed a National
Minimum Drinking Age Bill on July 17, 1984. The resulting Public
Law 98363 does not actually set the drinking age; rather, it withholds
highway funding from states that do not set the drinking age at 21.
Ironically, Reagan was elected and then re-elected (shortly after
enacting this law) on a neo-federalist platform that emphasized state's
rights above federal authority.