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Drinking a Game of Numbers

Heights Columnist

Published: Thursday, February 25, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

The drinking age in all states is currently 21 and has been since the 1980s. The age of most students in their freshman year of college is 18. College is a time for experimenting with a great deal of things and ideas (drugs, sex, and – extremely prevalent at Boston College – alcohol) that students would not necessarily experiment (at least not as irresponsibly) with under the watchful eye of their parents. Students are going to try new things if they desire to do them, whether these things are legal or illegal.

The current drinking age makes using alcohol illegal for most college-age students, but this does not stop them. It will only make their behavior more secretive and irresponsible. In order to foster an environment where this "experimenting" can be done responsibly and treated as an opportunity to learn how to drink like an adult, the drinking age needs to be lowered to at most 18.

How could this help to end irresponsible drinking and promote mature, adult-like drinking? Let us consider drinking at BC. Students under the age of 21 are sneaking hooch into their rooms after having an upperclassman, or possibly an undesirable, lounging outside Reservoir Liquors purchase libations for them.

After Mission Acquisition is accomplished, students begin drinking so they can get rid of the banned substance as quickly as possible. This means taking a shot, chasing, taking a deep breath, and repeating the process until the bottle is gone. It could mean draining most of a water or 20-ounce pop bottle and refilling it with alcohol (the equivalent of eight or more shots), or it could mean chugging down that beer in record time. If the drinking age was 18, students could buy their own alcohol and would not end up poisoning themselves because they were attempting to rid their rooms of a banned substance that is also fun to consume.

If drinking did not have to be done on the sly, the University would also be able to educate students about drinking responsibly. AlcoholEdu is simply not cutting it. Students still behave irresponsibly and find themselves in the hospital or programs designed to help them reconsider their drinking, which are as ineffective as the initial program. If drinking were legal for college-age students, they could drink in settings where responsible adults are present. For example, a campus pub where professors, administrators, and students could mingle would be a setting where students could learn to drink like their mature counterparts.

 Also, discussion and education about alcohol could be frank and honest, instead of accusatory and chastising. To those who would argue this would encourage students to drink, consider the chastity versus sex education argument. Studies have shown that teaching students about safe sex does not result in more students having sex. The same could be applied to alcohol consumption. Students who are going to drink will drink responsibly, and students who do not drink will not become booze hounds because they are taught how to consume alcohol in a manner that is respectful to their livers and their minds.

When the drinking age is lowered to 18, the level of stupidity with which students drink will also be lowered. Sipping, not chugging and taking shots, will be encouraged. Until that day arrives, the message remains the same: Have a drink. No harm, no foul. Just remember to use your head because if you don't, it'll hurt like hell tomorrow, and if you're especially irresponsible, it will hurt the rest of your life.


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