Opinion

Drinking age restrictions only fuel the problem

Why is the legal drinking age 21 in the United States?

That was the first question I had when I decided to come to the United States for college.

Having lived in China, I was accustomed to alcohol. I was surprised to find out that many people party so hard that they flunk their freshman year.

We all know that we get a thrill from breaking the rules, which is why people excessively drink in college. In addition, the complete independence and freedom is hard to ignore. With the newfound liberation from home and the limitless alcohol possibilities, people go crazy.

Because people in the U.S. are not exposed to alcohol at an earlier age, they go through the hype of drinking when they get to college, which can severely impact their academic studies.

So why not lower the drinking age? I realize that this is a ridiculous question, but think about it. If people learn how to drink earlier, then they will be knowledgeable and mature about it, and therefore, possibly be wise about extremity in alcohol.

It’s like being potty-trained. The earlier you are potty-trained, the more likely you will do your business in the bathroom and not anywhere else.

The law hasn’t done anything. The only thing it has done is driven alcohol consumption underground into fraternity houses and closed dorm rooms. The more the police enforce the law, the more they drive it underground. Drinking secretly isn’t the only consequence of this. Fake identities and drugs also stem from this problem.

On a popular ABC television show, “Pretty Little Liars,” the four main characters all have fake IDs and are so casual about it.

I am appalled. People just don’t care anymore.

The college administrations around the U.S. have probably realized this out of control drinking problem, because they have made it a requirement for freshmen to complete an online alcohol education course called “AlcoholEdu.” It has videos, facts, and lessons about drinking safely. It was like “Dora the Explorer,” but for college students and about alcohol.

Sure, I learned facts about alcohol that I didn’t know before, but do I really care?

I feel like this is one of those subjects where you would learn so much more by doing it rather than learning from the book, like a sport or playing an instrument. However, according to a research study done in Berkeley by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, AlcoholEdu has had a positive effect on college freshmen, reducing the percentage of students with alcohol problems.

Like I said, I do not think that most students apply their knowledge learned in the program to their real life experiences.Everybody knows that we drink even though we’re underage. There are even shuttles to take us safely back to campus because they know there are going to be drunk people.

So why not change the law?

 

Michelle Lock is a freshman majoring in public relations.

 

 

February 19, 2012

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Michelle Lock


2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Drinking age restrictions only fuel the problem”

  1. HonestOpinion says:

    “Sure, I learned facts about alcohol that I didn’t know before, but do I really care?”

    “However, according to a research study done in Berkeley by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, AlcoholEdu has had a positive effect on college freshmen, reducing the percentage of students with alcohol problems.”

    Not going to say I’ve never partaken in underage drinking, or that I am avidly against it, but if real statistics show that this AlcoholEdu concept is effective, you should PROBABLY wonder why.

    I agree with your point that the issue with drinking in college is that students have never been exposed to alcohol and thus do not know their own limitations. But making a comparison to potty-training is fallacious, unless potty-training has a medically-proven negative effect on your body at a younger age. You’re suggesting kids be spoonfed alcohol and learn by experiencing, which I consider analogous to suggesting the damaging of a child’s maturing nervous system.
    The age restriction exists as a benchmark for where alcohol will have a lower negative effect on a person’s health, not as a zero-tolerance illegal drug. We’re not taught as kids that alcohol is something we should never come near. Instead, we’re taught “Don’t drink and drive.” We learn about alcoholism and how TOO MUCH alcohol-intake can be dangerous. That is the importance of alcohol education – ultimately, the choice to drink or not is ours AFTER 21, the age at which medical professionals believe our bodies have settled. Advocating the removal of this drinking age shouldn’t be masked as a goal to protect overenthusiastic college students, because the real effect will be on children who walk out of a store, not without candy, but with alcohol.

  2. Scott says:

    Hey first thing I did the first night in college with my floor mates which was 20 people was to find someone old enough to buy beer. None of us had been exposed to us I think.

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