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Drinking age: College presidents should concentrate on enforcing the law

News-Times, News-Times
Published 8:00 pm, Thursday, August 21, 2008
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They have achieved that -- recruiting the presidents of 100 prominent colleges to lend their names to what's known as the Amethyst Initiative.

But in advocating a change in the legal drinking age, these college presidents also have given the impression that they aren't interested in enforcing current drinking age limits on their campuses.

"The fact that kids can't drink until they're 21 legally, simply forces them to do it clandestinely, and when they do, you get irresponsible behavior in the residence halls," said James Jones, president of Trinity College in Hartford. "You get younger students getting older students to go to the liquor store for them, and you get the binge drinking in the dorm rooms."

Jones is one of six college presidents in Connecticut who have joined the campaign. The others are from the University of Hartford, St. Joseph College in Hartford, Fairfield University, the University of New Haven and Mitchell College in New London.

Each state can establish its own legal drinking age. In New York and Connecticut, 21 is the legal drinking age. Congress has mandated a legal drinking age of 21 for states to qualify for federal highway funds -- a strong impediment to change.

So this campaign is really just about debate, not about changing the law. Too bad these college presidents don't focus their energies on educating students about the dangers of alcohol poisoning and drunken driving -- and on enforcing the law.