Last week, about 100 college presidents (including some from the most prestigious universities) recommended that the U.S. lower the drinking age to 18. Their reasoning? They say dropping the legal age would lessen the appeal and underground culture of college drinking. They believe it also would reduce binge drinking and prompt 18- to 20-year-olds to be more moderate in their alcohol consumption. Are they joking?! Do they also suppose that fraternity parties will turn into tea-sipping study sessions?
Leading the pack with this so-called Amethyst Initiative is John McCardell, who challenged Vermont in 2005 by saying in The New York Times, "The 21-year-old drinking age is bad social policy and terrible law." McCardell recently added, "All the data show that by the time (students) go to college, they have already experienced alcohol, so how can anyone say the law is working?" So is the remedy lowering the drinking age to accommodate juvenile jugging? Do we really think giving young people, who are eager to experience life outside the boundaries and rules of home, the right to drink would aid their and society's progress?
For the record, the drinking age was established at 21 in 1933, after Prohibition was repealed. In 1971, when the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18, several states reduced the drinking age, too. In 1984, however, with the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, all U.S. states were required to return the drinking age to 21. Ever since, alcohol-related fatalities have dropped 56 percent (except for a spike during the past decade). And now 100 college presidents want to raise those lethal statistics again? As it is, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1,700 college students die annually from alcohol-related incidents, not including the non-drinking victims also killed in those occurrences.
It's no surprise that organized opposition to dropping the legal drinking age is rising up all over the country, including from the International Association of Chiefs of Police and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Jeffrey Levy, who is on MADD's board of directors and has suffered through the death of his own 20-year-old son from an alcohol-related car accident, responded: "We think (the college presidents') first concern should be the health, welfare and safety of the students, and it certainly isn't. Their facts are terribly wrong. They want to take themselves off the hook. If they change the law, it's not their problem." As if America's universities don't have enough problems already, now their administrative leaders want to compound them by adding more alcohol consumption to the mix? I think parents, students and citizens across this land should find out whether their local college president belongs to this "gang of 100" and play "100 Fewer Bottles of Beer on the Campus" by petitioning and voting them out one by one!
We must do and believe better for the Millennial generation -- roughly those between the ages of 6 and 26 -- than merely to secure their ability to guzzle gin or use beer bongs legally. On the contrary, we must equip them to change our country and the world positively. Empowering young people is why I committed an entire chapter to them in my new (Sept. 7 release) book, "Black Belt Patriotism," now available for pre-order through Amazon.com.
Here's a first-seen glimpse from Chapter 7, titled "Calling all Millennials!"
"It's easy to criticize the inadequacies of young people. It's far more difficult to invest in kids, but much more rewarding. It's even much harder to tell them, 'We need you to help us reawaken America and rebuild what our Founding Fathers started.' But that's exactly what we, the Builder and Baby-Boomer generations, need to say to them. If you're a Millennial, consider this an invitation. We need your help. I need your help to join me and millions of others in a revolution (or, if you will, a rebelution), not to abandon the principles of the past but combine them together with social action in the present to build a better tomorrow. In other words, it's time to make some noise! …
"It sounds kind of canned, but I truly believe that there is a hero in all of us. We all were designed by God to be a blessing to others -- a champion to someone. And our kids today need champions. They need heroes. And don't think you can't be that hero. You might not be called upon to save someone's life. But all of us can make a difference for the better in someone's life. You might teach them a skill that will enrich their lives. You might remind them of who they are (a child of God) and what they can offer (love and understanding). Every one of them needs to know someone loves them, someone cares for them, God has a plan and purpose for their life, and their life is the most priceless thing on this planet. …
"If we're going to win the culture war, we need the Millennials to do it. There is no way around it. We need to reengage with our young people and plug them into America's glorious past so they can build a brighter future."