I saw a group of three people order a fish bowl-sized margarita the other day. It was a real fish bowl, hopefully not previously used to house the fish, but full of margarita. I stared at it amazed, quite jealous and hoping one of the people sharing backwash and a straw had the flu as punishment for me not being able to legally order the drink yet.
While I stared the group down, another table received a similar drink order, but instead of a fish bowl, they ordered a water cooler, one of those large blue containers which are put into offices and classrooms. The top was cut off and a ladle was used to scoop out the drink into each person’s glass. There were 10 people at the table, but several gallons of tequila and ice to be devoured.
I can legally order one of the monstrous drinks in six months. Six months is ridiculous; I want one now. And I can’t make it on my own, as I don’t have an industrial-strength blender.
I believe 18 should be the federal drinking age, to reduce binge and underage drinking. The law does not stop college or high school kids from drinking but forces them to get alcohol illegally and riskily.
Twenty-one has been the national drinking age since 1984, under the Federal Aid Highway Act spearheaded by the organization MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, as many people were dying in car crashes especially on the highway after consuming large amounts of alcohol. The rise in the drinking age has lowered the rate of these deaths, but raised a whole new slew of problems that affect college campuses and high schools across the world.
The University of Massachusetts deals with alcohol-related incidents every weekend and during the week, in dorms and off campus trying to keep students safe. While I believe not many students drive around in a drunken state, achieving the law’s goal in lowering driving accidents, I believe it has increased binge drinking and led to dangerous practices where students do not always seek help when they need it, as they are afraid of getting in trouble with the University and the town.
Binge drinking involves drinking several drinks in a short amount of time with the intent of getting drunk, and it’s alluring to many students, who drink a lot in their dorms before leaving for a party so they do not have to pass cops on the way out of the dorms or on the way to the party.
The University has in place several programs to stem dangerous behavior due to alcohol consumption, including free rides home and a program where students can call for police or ambulance assistance with little to no fear of legal repercussions.
Many university presidents have joined the movement called Amethyst Initiative. The initiative was founded with the aim to lower the drinking age to 18, thereby curbing the binge drinking epidemic and saving student’s lives.
If the drinking age was set at 18, student drinking would be protected by the legal system. The current system is not working, according to the Amethyst Initiative. Several college students drink themselves to death every year, thousands suffer permanent health effects from binging and even more make “ethical compromises that erode respect for the law,” members of the initiative said in a statement.
Underage drinking will not stop, but the laws need to change. They need to be formulated in the best way to protect students. A drinking age of 18 would decrease binge drinking and allow the police to protect students more, as students would not be hiding their drinking habits as much.
Claire Anderson is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.