A movement is spreading throughout the popular social networking Web site Facebook about an issue near and dear to many college students’ hearts: drinking.
The National Youth Rights Association is leading a petition on Facebook to lower the minimum legal drinking age to 18.The NYRA argues that if a person can vote, serve in the military and hold public office, then they should also be allowed to drink.
Freshman pre-pharmacy major Josh Scarbiel agrees with the NYRA.
“If you can go to war, you should be able to drink,” Scarbiel said. “I’m all for it. I think that your liver is pretty well developed by 18.”
Michael Ziegler said the issue is too big to be regulated.
“There’s no use in cracking down on it because it’s always going to happen,” Ziegler said.
Ziegler, a freshman music performance major, also said there are so many driving under the influence and alcohol-related deaths that lowering the drinking age wouldn’t make it any worse. Alcohol kills six times more young people than all other illicit drugs combined, according to a study by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine.
Danna Bodenheimer, a licensed social worker and counselor for Campus Alcohol and Substance Awareness, said she doesn’t see lowering the drinking age as an effective
way to decrease drunk driving.
Bodenheimer said the big problem is alcohol companies are targeting young people as lucrative consumers.
“The only thing we have to ward off the power of the alcohol companies is the law,” Bodenheimer said.”If you drive down the highway, there [are] advertisements on billboards for beer, so there’s also this encouragement of drinking and driving,” Bodenheimer said.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol-related traffic fatalities are at a 10-year high.Michalina Karnowska said lowering the drinking age will eventually lead to less alcohol-related accidents. “Maybe, in the beginning, people would be going wild, but in time, people would get tired of it,” said Karnowska, a sophomore biology major.
Matt Fletcher, a freshman pre-pharmacy major, said kids wouldn’t drink and drive because they wouldn’t be sneaking around, they would now be legitimate.
“Possibly there would be less DUIs because kids wouldn’t be sneaking behind their parents’ backs,” Fletcher said.
Kim Bovitz, a junior film major, said there will be more violence if the drinking age is lowered. “There will be 18-year-olds getting 16-year-olds and 14-year-olds alcohol,” Bovitz said.
She also said people are not mature enough for a lower drinking age. Many European countries have a lower drinking age or none at all and have less alcohol-related problems, according to the NYRA. NYRA argues that the United States should follow suit and introduce alcohol at a young age in a safe environment with young people’s parents.
The drinking age was initially lowered by many states to 18 in the 1970s, when the voting age was lowered. Traffic fatalities and injuries increased shortly after. This led many advocacy groups to push for an increase in the minimum legal drinking age, according to the American Medical Association.
In 1984, the federal government enacted the Uniform Drinking Act, a law that essentially cut off federal transportation funds to states that did not increase the drinking age to 21.
Junior film major Kyle Poland said lowering the drinking age would decrease teenage drinking.
“Underage people just want to break the rules, so if it’s not a rule the thrill be gone,” he said.
The thrill of breaking a rule would be replaced with the thrill of drinking legally, Bovitz added. “I would honestly drink more because of the thrill of going into a liquor store and buying beer legally,” he said.
LeAnne Matlach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.