Bottoms Up

We talked extensively about this on RedMaryland Radio tonight, but I wanted to say a few things here about this:

Top university officials in Maryland – including the chancellor of the state university system and the president of the Johns Hopkins University – say the current drinking age of 21 “is not working” and has led to dangerous binges in which students have harmed themselves and others.

Six college presidents in Maryland are among more than 100 college and university presidents nationwide who have signed a statement calling for a public debate on rethinking the drinking age.

“Kids are going to drink whether it’s legal or illegal,” said Johns Hopkins President William R. Brody, who supports lowering the drinking age to 18. “We’d at least be able to have a more open dialogue with students about drinking as opposed to this sham where people don’t want to talk about it because it’s a violation of the law.”

The presidents of the University of Maryland, College Park; Towson University; the College of Notre Dame of Maryland; Goucher College; Washington College and the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute signed the statement, along with the presidents of Duke, Dartmouth and Ohio State University.

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“How many times must we relearn the lessons of prohibition?” the statement says. “Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.”

And I say “here, here.” The only reason that we have a “national” drinking age is because the Federal Government tied in highway funding to the 21-year old standard; if your drinking age wasn’t 21, you didn’t get your share of the pie. And that’s a pretty dumb way to make public policy and and a cheap way to coerce states into doing what you can’t do legislatively.

If you are old enough to sign a contract, serve in the military, and do things that require you to attain the age of 18, you are old enough to purchase and consume alcohol legally. This is a no-brainer and I have no idea why this movement hasn’t come sooner than it has. The commitment to keeping 21 as the legal drinking age makes little legislative or policy sense, and certainly does not pass the test of common sense. The Presidents should be applauded for supporting logical action.

My only disappointment? My alma mater, which is a signatory to the foolish American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, couldn’t be bothered to sign on to this much more useful endeavor…


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