Teens must show responsibility to petition the drinking age

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September 26, 2008

12:10 AM

As Campus Police will inform us while they cruise around campus looking for teetering teenagers, the underage drinking laws and the College of William and Mary’s drinking policies, despite over 20 years of debate, are still in place. During its alcohol education program, the College takes a freshman survey to discover the percentage of students who do not drink. A high percentage are probably lying, or they haven’t started drinking, yet.

Roughly nine out of 10 underage students I know drink alcohol, which exposes the College’s alcohol policies and Virginia’s drinking laws as highly ineffective. This high number of underage drinkers also suggests a high number of irresponsible drinkers.

As college students across the country argue for lower drinking ages, it’s important to realize that college students who get trashed or binge drink are responsible for the high drinking age.

Lawmakers and policymakers have established one of the highest drinking ages in the world, and it is important to know how they came up with this drinking age in the first place.

The senators and representatives of 1984 saw that teens between the ages of 18 and 21 were causing more drunk driving accidents than any other age group. What these lawmakers didn’t realize was that this age group was not more likely to drink and drive than other age groups; this statistic had more to do with the variation of drinking ages that the states set for themselves. While some states had a drinking age of 18, bordering states had a drinking age of 21.

This created incentives for younger drinkers to cross state lines and pick up their drinks in neighboring states, get drunk, and then drive back to their home state. Blood borders — state borders where drunk driving accidents occurred most frequently — were caused by this discrepancy in drinking ages among states. It’s clear enough that while older drinkers were probably drunk-driving just as much, they only had to drive down the block, while younger drinkers had to drive across state lines to get their booze.
I think the unreasonable drinking age might have something to do with the image of a boy wearing a backwards baseball cap, dipping his neck gracefully over a toilet seat. We have created a stereotype of irresponsible drinking for ourselves. Underage drinkers are seen by older voters as stupid kids who can’t just sit back and have a beer.

We have to fill our bodies with so much booze that we puke, have unsafe sex, trash other people’s houses, get alcohol poisoning and drive.

While this does not describe everyone, it only takes a few people to ruin it for the rest of us. They are the representatives of our age group that older voters and lawmakers see and worry about.

But blaming binge drinking and the increased risk on Virginia laws and College policies is equally as ineffective as the laws and policies themselves. It’s like arguing that the chicken came before the egg.
We could just not get trashed all the time. Or at least demonstrate that we, too, can have responsible drinking habits.

We are illogical when argue that we deserve the right to purchase, possess and consume alcohol. We abused the privilege when we had it, and we still haven’t grow up.

Brittany Hamilton is a junior at the College.

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