05 February 2011

Sometimes I think: the drinking age

One of the things I've realized about UMass after 6 years is that the university has claimed to clean up its drinking image, but has largely pushed it off campus. Sometimes I work late on Friday nights (boo) or even come into the lab on an occasional Saturday (boo). Driving home on those nights, the crowds of people coming and going from parties at off-campus apartment complex are nothing short of incredible. It's obvious that they are going to parties to drink. Then they're walking on fairly busy streets, sometimes extremely drunk, to get back to campus.

It's not hard to drink on campus either. If you can acquire alcohol, it's easy to get a small group of people together and drink in a dorm room. That's what I would do. And at times my drinking was downright ridiculous.

I think that both of these scenarios are problematic. Typically I'm wont to favor scenarios with minimal regulation of anything (because I turned out all right of course), but at the same time I think it's favorable, in general, for people to drink, initially at least, in public rather than in private. Furthermore, taking the uncompromising libertarian attitude towards alcohol seems so impractical for getting anything done.

The Graduated Drinking Age
  • At 21 the rules are exactly as they are now.
  • At 18 you can be served alcohol at a licensed bar or restaurant.
  • At 16 you can be served alcohol at a bar or restaurant, but only with a sponsor who is over 21 and has some responsibly for the actions of the person whom they sponsor.
The idea is to slowly cultivate an attitude towards drinking. By forcing drinking to occur in public first and be explicitly served, the idea is established to learn one's limits and avoid getting into a dangerous situation.

Universities would love this, because they could establish on campus bars and make a good amount of money. College towns would love this because droves of students wouldn't be driven into off-campus parties, taking strain off of their police forces. Plus its would stop the people from walking in the road road when I'm trying to fucking drive home!

The main problem here is that I think that 21 as the drinking age is tied to federal highway money which states are loathe to give up. So I don't expect much.

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