“We Would All be Better off if the Drinking Age were 18”

by David J. Hanson, Ph.D.

"I think we would all be better off if the drinking age were 18," says the President of Dartmouth College, Dr. James Wright. He remembers the days before the drinking age was raised to 21. At that time academic departments had open house and served sherry, students commonly gathered with faculty with drinks. Dr. Wright says "I think it's unfortunate we find ourselves in the position that we enforce a law that most of us believe doesn't treat students as adults." 1

President Wright emphasizes that “if the nation could send 18-year-olds to Iraq and if the College could send its students to off-campus programs in places where drinking was not regulated below age 21, then it should be deemed reasonable that students be able to drink legally at age 18 in the United States.

He would agree with Dr. John McCardell, the President Emeritus of Middlebury College, who notes that

State legislators, many of whom will admit the law is bad, are held hostage by the denial of federal highway funds if they reduce the drinking age. Our latter-day prohibitionists have driven drinking behind closed doors and underground . . . Colleges should be given the chance to educate students, who in all other respects are adults, in the appropriate use of alcohol, within campus boundaries and out in the open. 2

 

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