Indiana University Calls for Discussion of Underage Alcohol Policies; Joins Amethyst Initiative
The Amethyst Initiative is a group of college and university presidents across the United States who believe that "the problem of irresponsible drinking by young people continues despite the minimum legal drinking age of 21, and there is a culture of dangerous binge drinking on many campuses."
Amethyst Initiative presidents promote public discussion about the unintended consequences of current alcohol policies, including the minimum legal drinking age of 21, and invites new ideas on how best to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use. For more information, visit Amethyst Initiative and Choose Responsibility
There are a number of possible policy changes that might be discussed. They include such things as possibly:
- issuing drinking learner permits to adults aged 18 or older, similar to driving learner permits;
- permitting adults serving in the armed forces to consume alcoholic beverages under certain conditions;
- permitting states to develop their own programs to reduce alcohol abuse without penalizing them for doing so by withholding highway funding;
- lowering the drinking age to 18, 19 or 20;
- some combination of the above;
- considering ideas not yet proposed.
There is much resistance to even discussing possible options for a variety of reasons. Many organizations and professionals have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Some simply don't believe any change is needed. Some believe the questionable theory that drinking in moderation harms developing brains, a notion disproven by the experience of Jews, Italians, Greeks, Portuguese, French, and others around the world. Some doubt the maturity of young adults. Some don't think we can improve what we're already doing. A surprisingly large number favor the de facto prohibition of alcohol as a way to prevent alcohol-related problems. And the list goes on.
"It is not enough to preach abstinence, sanction offenders and pick up the pieces after a student has been a victim of alcohol abuse. There must be education about alcohol from childhood through adulthood. That's what the Amethyst discussion is all about."
Dr. Bobby Fong, President of Indiana University
Therefore, it's a brave person who publicly calls for discussions about how we might reduce alcohol abuse among young people. However, a large number of the presidents of some of our leading colleges and universities have courageously taken such a stand by signing the Amethyst Initiative to do exactly that.
Dr. Fong, president of Indiana University, reports that he
signed the Amethyst Initiative, a statement from university presidents that invites public discussion on how Americans deal with alcohol. It proposes that America has developed a culture of dangerous binge drinking, particularly on college campuses. The signatories call on elected officials and the public to weigh all the consequences of current alcohol policies and invite new ideas on how best to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use.
President Fong notes that some who signed "support the current 21-year-old drinking age; others may want to change it. But they are united in their concern about the effects of binge drinking."
We know that "Responsible drinking is a learned behavior. We know that the overwhelming majority of college-age students drink, but we cannot model what responsible drinking is like."
The educational leader emphasizes that "It is not enough to preach abstinence, sanction offenders and pick up the pieces after a student has been a victim of alcohol abuse. There must be education about alcohol from childhood through adulthood. That's what the Amethyst discussion is all about."
- Bobby Fong. Start discussing ways to educate about alcohol, Indianapolis Star, September 7, 2008.
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