The recent Facebook campaign to lower the drinking age to 18 may seem novel, with students uniting behind a common cause, but its supporters may not have fully considered their position.
In addition to foolishly declaring their support for underage drinking, they’ve marginalized the importance of the two or three year limbo between graduation and inebriation, when drinkers really learn their limitations.
College is for education of all kinds, and one of the more important experiences for freshmen is learning to drink responsibly. For many, learning to control alcohol is a messy path, fraught with lost memories, long nights, and awkward glances on Liacouras Walk.
On Friday nights, students can see this learning in progress, as underclassmen stumble back to their residence halls. Yes, this education is a time-honored tradition at higher-learning institutions all over the country.
With a drinking age of 21, underage students are forced to stay on or around campus, under the supervision of their Residence Assistants and Campus Safety Services. It could be said that college campuses have accepted underage drinking as a fact of life, and while they do not go as far as condoning it, Temple’s administration has put into place plenty of programs which protect underage students while promoting responsible drinking.
It’s hard to fathom the results of this experience moving from campus to city nightspots.
Having countless teenagers prowling bars could only negatively affect city nightlife. Temple’s neighbors can attest to the disturbance that partying students make.
Surely bar patrons would not have the same patience for irresponsible drinking as the university. Center City bars could never provide the same sheltered learning wxperience that students receive on campus.
Bartenders would also be put in a sticky situation. It’s illegal to serve a visibly drunk patron, and doing so can lead to lawsuits later. It’s conceivable that bars would turn away underage patrons anyway because of the increased liability they present.
Consider the danger of a wideeyed freshman wandering the streets drunk. First-year students barely know how to get around campus, let alone Center City. On campus, a passed-out student can be picked up by campus safety and a lonely night over the toilet can be shared with an RA.
Inevitably, students will return to the rhetorical argument that “If I’m old enough to die for my country …”
This logic was used for many years as a slogan for voting rights, and co-opting it for something as trivial as getting drunk is not only wrong, it’s insulting to those who have actually had to fight and die. We should consider ourselves lucky enough to be able to enjoy this experience; few Temple students are in a position where they may someday fight for this country.
Students who seek to lower the legal drinking age should really consider what they’re giving up: the college experience.