Lowering the Drinking Age?

By Anthony Castellano
Staff Writer

Duke University President Richard Brodhead is strongly encouraging lawmakers to lower the drinking age to from 21 to 18, arguing that the current age actually encourages harmful binge drinking on campus. However, President Brodhead isn’t the only college president who feels this way. Actually, Brodhead is among more than 100 college presidents who strongly feel that the drinking age should be lowered.

Lowering the drinking age? Wouldn’t that just promote more drinking and drunk-driving? According to President Brodhead, it will be the opposite. Broadhead says that the current legislature “pushes drinking into hiding, heightening its risks and does not allow school officials to address drinking with students as an issue of responsible choice.”

Personally, I agree with President Brodhead’s views regarding the drinking age. I feel that society flagrantly contradicts itself by deeming 18 year olds legal “adults”, yet an adult can’t drink a beer? At age 18, you can actually get a job brewing beer, making wine, or distilling liquor, but you can’t consume any of the drinks you are making. Actually, at 18, you can legally own a bar in some states and you can also buy a semi-automatic shotgun or scope-sighted rifle. At this age, you can enlist in the military as well. I think that the brave, courageous soldiers who volunteer to risk their lives for their country should be considered adults? Telling these soldiers that they aren’t old enough to drink would be insulting, in my opinion.   After all, you can vote and take part in the governmental process and try to change America. The idea that an individual, according to the government, is mature enough to take part in impacting presidential races that have a monumental impact on our country but are still not allowed to drink, is certainly ambiguous.

Another reason why the drinking age should be lowered is the reason that Duke President Richard Brodhead elaborated on. By making drinking accessible to people three years after you become a legal adult as opposed to when you become a legal adult only makes drinking more tempting. This leads to more clandestine drinking. Matt Gore, a Marywood student, says “By keeping the drinking age at 21 rather than 18, you’re demonizing the subject of drinking alcohol, making it more tempting for teenagers to drink it. Many high school juniors and seniors engage in drinking before they turn 18. I think that we have to bring drinking out in the open more rather than hiding it. By lowering the drinking age, the subject of drinking suddenly appears less evil and wrong.”

However, there is the argument that lowering the drinking age will lead younger people to start a destructive path in their lives that, perhaps with three more years of maturity could have been avoided. Author Aaron Howard once said, “Responsible drinking? Now that’s an oxymoron. Drinking often leads to smoking which leads to marijuana, which leads to crack, which leads to cocaine, which can eventually lead to illness and death.” In response to this Gore says, “The difference in maturity between ages 18 and 21 is very minor. Students just have to be educated more in society about the dangers of drinking.”

Professor Kashuba, a Writing Skills teacher here at Marywood says, “When you live in a community together (college campus) with a certain number of people who are allowed to drink and another group that is not of the legal age, you’re just asking for trouble.” When asked about the possibility of lowering the drinking age and how it can lead younger people to other drugs and addiction, she said, “People today have to mature earlier and learn how to be responsible when drinking.”

After all, the drinking age in many other countries is lower than 21. The drinking age is 18 or younger in France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Greece, Australia, and many other countries. In Italy, you are allowed to drink alcohol in public at age 16 and in Greece, you can drink alcohol at age 14. My old high school Italian teacher, Ciro Quatrocchi, often told us about his own experiences regarding drinking in Italy. He said his kids as well as many others in Italy did not “crave” alcohol since it was socially acceptable to drink at a young age, thus making it less appealing to teenagers, according to Quattrocchi. Ryan Fosbenner, another Marywood students, says, “If people are allowed to drink alcohol when they’re 18, they will mature earlier and this consistent with all the other privileges 18 year olds are granted when they become ‘adults’.”

By the time a kid turns 18, he or she knows by then about the dangers associated with drinking. I think that society has done an adequate job of educating teenagers about the hazards that accompany binge drinking. Today, many high schools have mandatory health classes that teach teenagers about the harms of drinking and drunk-driving. At my old high school, there was even a club called “Students Against Drunk Driving.”

After reading this article, the reader may wonder why I didn’t get the opinion of someone who opposes this topic just for the sake of argument. Well, the truth is that I asked several other people in addition to those mentioned above and they all were in favor of lowering the drinking age.

In conclusion, I think the drinking age should be lowered to 18 for multiple reasons, many of which I mentioned above. Hopefully, if this change comes to be, binge drinking and drunk driving accidents decline. Just remember, in the words of renowned writer Ernest Hemingway, “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut”.