Should drinking age be lowered? ASU president sounds off - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Should drinking age be lowered? ASU president sounds off

By Cade Fowler - bio | email

September 25, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - For years alcohol has been a symbol of college social life. A familiar activity at many parties and events, thousands of students at campuses across the country drink alcohol.  But for underclassmen under the age of 21 it's illegal to drink. However, many still do.

But should it be illegal for a college freshman or sophomore under the age of 21 to have a drink? The answer is no, at least according to 129 college presidents throughout the U.S. that  signed the Amethyst Initiative - a controversial movement aimed at lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18.

Albany State University President Dr. Everett Freeman says he was not approached about signing his name on the statement, but admits that drinking, underage or otherwise, is not a problem on his campus.

"This year we've got about 550 incoming freshmen that fit this age category. I'm teaching a freshmen class, so I get to see a good number of them, and they're just good kids. They're far more interested in step shows than they are in drinking," says Freeman.

President Freeman says that while he does not vehemently oppose the movement, one that has called upon the presidents of 4-year colleges and universities to encourage lawmakers to lower the drinking age, he adds that ASU hasn't witnessed problems with binge drinking, one of the key concerns addressed in the Amethyst statement.

"I don't want to rush the matter of drinking. If the state decides that we're going to decrease the drinking age, that's fine. But I don't have a dog in the hunt because our students simply don't have that problem."

But proponents of the initiative argue that a culture of binge drinking is on the rise amongst students under the age of 21.  By lowering the drinking age to 18, this could be prevented.

Clarence Young an ASU freshman, disagrees. He says, "No they really shouldn't lower the drinking age. A lot of people 18-years-old isn't really responsible enough to drink and take care of themselves."

And while 18-year-olds can vote, serve in the military and on juries, some think it's a fair trade off. Others, like ASU freshman Tiffany Monday, just choose to avoid alcohol.

"My friends don't drink and I don't drink so it's not like that. I hang around people that are positive in my life so I don't have to worry about that."

Freeman says, "I think it's because many of these kids have had experiences in their lives, many of them, and they say I won't go there. They look at these things as crutches rather than as sources of entertainment. So they stay away from it.

In the state Georgia the presidents of Spelman College and Oglethorpe University have signed on to the initiative. Presidents of Morehouse College and Georgia Southwestern University had originally signed on but later retracted their signatures.

The legal drinking age in the United States has been 21 since Congress passed the Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984.

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