Universities want lawmakers to consider drinking at 18

by Kia Carter

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois — Support for a lower drinking age is coming from a surprising place. A group, made up of presidents from some of the nation’s top universities, wants lawmakers to consider a national drinking age of 18.

Freshmen at Augustana are gearing up for the start of a new experience. But what if turning 18 and entering college carried the right to drink alcohol? Nearly 100 presidents at Universities like Duke, Dartmouth, Ohio State and Syracuse, to name a few, support the consideration.

“The presidents are calling for more discussion, more dialogue, more investigation of data. Personally, I am totally for that. Beyond that, I don’t think we can draw any more conclusions from what the data says yet, but I’m for dialogue and investigation,” says Evelyn Campbell, Augustana Dean & Vice President of Student Services.

College presidents argue that having to wait until 21 to drink, actually encourages dangerous binge drinking. Some students agree.

“Everyone’s waiting to hit 21, but I think it if were 18, it would reduce that anticipation of “I can’t wait to drink,” says Nick Stader, Augustana Junior, 21.

Ryan Landi is a young senior at the age of 20, and he admits he drinks. He thinks drinking at 18 would help curb binge drinking if parents were there to teach their children how to drink responsibly.

“When they get to college and everyone’s the same age, there’s no parents, there’s freedom and they don’t know how much to drink, so they drink as much as they feel,” says Landi, 20.

College kids know whether its 18 or 21, they can access alcohol. The Dean of Students admits it’s the number one concern at all schools, which is why she thinks so many are open to a discussion.

“I think presidents are constantly trying to find ways to address the problem of alcohol and I see this as the evolution of the desire to fix the problem. I think whatever the drinking age is, Augustana will work to keep kids safe,” says Campbell.

Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving are countering the initiative, arguing that lowering the drinking age would lead to more negative repercussions like fatal car crashes.

http://www.wqad.com/Global/story.asp?S=8867271&nav=menu132_3_8_2

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