Talking about drinking age

Talking about drinking age

Cazenovia College and Colgate University join Amethyst Initiative

By Willie Kiernan


The Amethyst Initiative, a movement made up of about 100 college chancellors and presidents nationwide that supports debate on the drinking age. Amethyst is from the Greek meaning "not intoxicated."

"Those who support the Amethyst Initiative are asking that the nation enter into a serious dialogue about this matter in order to find a path to a better outcome," said Cazenovia College President Dr. Mark Tierno.

Cazenovia College and Colgate University have joined a host of other colleges and universities across the country by signing a public statement stating that the 21-year-old drinking age is not working and creates a culture of dangerous binge drinking on their campuses.

"The Amethyst Initiative is not saying that the 21-year-old drinking age is at the center of what we want to talk about... what is at the center is that the outcome of a 21-year-old drinking age (which sought to reduce problem drinking and drunk driving among the 18, 19 and 20-year-old population) has not resulted in what was originally intended," Tierno said. "Rather, the opposite has occurred. It is well documented that the 18-to-20 year old age group engages in both clandestine binge drinking (because they drink in seclusion, hidden from older Americans) and in drunk driving. From a college and college president perspective, this clandestine culture of binge drinking is largely a result of the 21-year old drinking age."

However, parents, politicians and educators across the country have responded with outrage to a radical proposal aimed to reduce the legal age for drinking alcohol in order to combat binge drinking. In a statement last week Laura Dean-Mooney, president of the influential Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), branded the so-called Amethyst Initiative lower drinking age proposal "a misguided initiative that uses deliberately misleading information to confuse the public."

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