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ERIC Number: EJ871038
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0146-5945
Underage Drinking and the Drinking Age
Main, Carla T.
Policy Review, n155 Jun-Jul 2009
The problem of underage drinking on college campuses has been brewing for many years to the continued vexation of higher education administrators. In 2008, John McCardell, president emeritus of Middlebury College, began to circulate for signature a public statement among colleagues titled "The Amethyst Initiative," which calls for elected officials to reexamine underage drinking laws. The project grew out of outreach efforts of a nonprofit organization he founded in 2007 called Choose Responsibility. The nonprofit advocates lowering the drinking age to 18 and licensing alcohol use for young people in much the same manner as driving--following coursework and an exam. Choose Responsibility also favors the repeal of the laws that set 21 as the mandatory minimum age for drinking (known as the "21 laws") and encourages states at the least to adopt exceptions to the 21 laws that would allow minors to drink at home and in private clubs. Since its launch, the Amethyst Initiative has created a public dialog about the drinking age, resulting in media coverage and a hearing before the New Jersey state legislature in November 2008. Despite its gravity as a public health problem, even among children younger than 18, the topic of underage alcohol abuse has been underaddressed in the popular media and in public funding compared to illicit drug abuse. The Initiative is a welcome development insofar as it challenges individuals to examine whether 21 "is working." The answer: It is not, as currently enforced. In this article, the author talks about the Amethyst Initiative's harmful remedy and explains why the 21 laws are broken. (Contains 19 endnotes.)
Hoover Institution, Stanford University. 21 Dupont Circle NW Suite 310, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 877-558-3727; Tel: 202-466-6730; Fax: 202-466-6733; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A