Let's talk over drinks

By Editorial staff

This past summer, 129 college presidents signed the Amethyst Initiative, a formal call for a reconsideration of the legal drinking age proposed by former Middlebury College president John McCardell. While the initiative was meant to facilitate a discussion of the drinking age, its implicit suggestion was to lower it from 21 to 18. President Rosenberg chose not to sign it, explaining that he didn’t “know enough about the pros and cons right now to make an informed judgment about whether lowering the age.would in fact promote responsible drinking.”

Other Macalester staff members, he said, were equally doubtful about whether the initiative would solve binge drinking problems on campus or illegal drinking in general.

But what do students think?

Many domestic students arrive at Macalester having been sober in high school, having binged in secrecy, or having drunk in moderation under the supervision of their family.

The appeal of drinking in a dorm room may not be irresistible, but it’s definitely tempting, and many students begin drinking or binging before they turn 21. When they find themselves in dangerous situations, they’re often unwilling to turn to Res Life or other authorities for fear of punishment.

And for the many international students at Mac, drinking just isn’t that big a deal. All the drinking age manages to do is uselessly keep them from enjoying a beer at Coffee News, the occasional concert, or the festivities at Founder’s Day.

If President Rosenberg had asked for students’ opinions, they probably would’ve told him that that problem with students’ drinking isn’t that it happens, but that people pretend that it shouldn’t and doesn’t.

What could help to solve this problem? Perhaps a cultural shift to make drinking a less tempting, taboo pastime led by college presidents or, as President Rosenberg called them, “walking logos.”

We should encourage President Rosenberg to take the first step, to open discussion on campus about alcohol abuse. If nothing else, it would be a meaningful initiative to question students’ drinking age instead of their maturity.