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US Drinking Age (Change?)

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As some of you may know there is a quite large petition going around to try and change the legal drinking age from 21 to 18, I'm curious to hear what everyone thinks about this matter, I myself think it would be bad, allowing 18yr old's to buy alcohol would make it much easier for anyone in high school to come by it, 21yr old's are out of school and the worry is gone about it plaguing school grounds.

Just curious on everyone's opinion on the matter.

To: College Students and all who wish to lower the legal drinking age

The current United States legal drinking age is 21. Many United States citizens disagree with this age. Many believe that the age to legally be able to purchase, consume or possess alcohol should be 18. A United States Citizen is allowed to vote when they are 18 years of age. 18 year old males are forced to join the Selective Service, for possible drafting. This means that 18-year old males can go to war. At age 18, a citizen is also inclined to jury duty. So, an 18-year old is given the responsibilities of voting, being selected for jury duty, and possibly being drafted for war. If an 18-year old citizen is to be given these responsibilities, why is the legal drinking age 21? Does the U.S. Government not trust those of us under 21? They trust us with their votes, yet they cannot treat us like full adults for another 3 years!

There have been many Colleges and Universities that disagree with the legal drinking age. These schools believe that by outlawing alcohol consumption from those students under 21 is only making the problem worse. If the drinking age were changed to 18, Colleges would be able to regulate alcohol use, so students would not become overly intoxicated. This would probably cut down on the number of College campus alcohol-related deaths, since Campus officials would be able to better monitor alcohol use.

Here is an excerpt from an article on Teenage drinking from Time Magazine at Time (.) com, written by JEFFREY KLUGER:
Often it is college administrators who have to deal directly with the most reckless imbibing. In studies through the 1990s by the Harvard School of Public Health, the percentage of college students who reported binge drinking within the previous two weeks remained steady at 44\%. (Binging was defined as five drinks in a row for boys and four for girls.) In an age in which campus officials are increasingly seen as proxy parents, this is worrying to them. Legal liability is of particular concern, especially after M.I.T. last year chose to avoid a lawsuit by paying out $6 million to the parents of a freshman who in 1997 drank himself to death at a fraternity initiation.

One approach to reckless imbibing gaining currency among college administrators is unconventional and even counterintuitive. It argues for accepting that college-age kids are going to drink and for encouraging them to do so safely. Some campus officials recommend bowing to reality and lowering the drinking age, as 29 states did in the early '70s. By 1988, in response to the national mood against drunk driving and a threat by the Federal Government to cut off highway funding, every state had a minimum drinking age of 21.

Researchers at the University of Michigan who studied the effects of the increase in the drinking age found that states on average reduced drinking among high school seniors 13.3\%. The change also contributed to a 58\% drop in alcohol-related auto deaths among 15- to 20-year-olds since 1982. A small chorus of university leaders believe, however, that the higher drinking age has in some ways made drinking more dangerous.

When drinking is legal, they argue, it takes place in the open, where it can be supervised by police, security guards and even health-care workers. When the drinking age went up, the spigot wasn't turned off, it was simply moved underground--to homes or cars or frat-house basements--where no adult could keep an eye on things. When kids who are drinking on the sly do venture out, they often "pre-load" first, fueling up on as much alcohol as they can hold before the evening begins so that the buzz lasts as long as possible. As for the reduction in traffic fatalities? Skeptics believe it may have less to do with changing the drinking age than with the new mores about drunk driving and the more aggressive enforcement of DUI laws.

Doubtful about the value of the 21-year-old limit, administrators at Middlebury College in Vermont recently calculated how much federal highway money the state would lose were it to reduce the legal age to 18. Middlebury officials wanted to see if the school could afford to make up the difference. It couldn't (the figure was about $12.5 million last year), and the proposal died. But the idea didn't.

"The 21-year drinking age has not reduced drinking on campuses, it has probably increased it," says Middlebury president John McCardell. "Society expects us to graduate students who have been educated to drink responsibly. But society has severely circumscribed our ability to do that."

Other college administrators share McCardell's frustration. "If there were an 18- or 19-year-old drinking age, we could address the issues more favorably," says Dartmouth College President James Wright. As it is, "we can't go around sniffing students' breath or smelling their cups." Despite their complaints, college heads have been disinclined to make a public case for lowering the drinking age, knowing how controversial that would be. "

There you go, proof that even colleges want to lower the legal drinking age to 18!
Reference: PetitionOnline (dot) com