Archive for Wednesday, August 20, 2008

KU abstains from effort to lower drinking age

A nationwide movement to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18 is not getting support from KU.

August 20, 2008


On the street

Do you think lowering the drinking age would help solve the problem of binge drinking?

No. I think it’s more of a cultural thing. As long as it is seen as the cool thing to do, changing the law isn’t going to stop it.

More responses

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Do you think the drinking age should be lowered from 21 to 18, in an effort to curb binge drinking?

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Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway doesn't plan to join a nationwide movement by college leaders to reduce the drinking age from 21 to 18.

College presidents from about 100 of the nation's best-known universities are calling on lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age, saying current laws encourage dangerous binge drinking on campus.

While KU spokeswoman Lynn Bretz said the university wouldn't sign the petition, she did agree that a discussion of underage drinking was one that needed people from all walks of life involved.

"We are not signing on," Bretz said. "It's a complicated societal issue. It's not a matter of college universities changing the law."

But some KU students said Hemenway would be more popular on campus if he did join in and that it only makes sense to lower the drinking age.

"There's definitely lots of underage drinking going on on campus," said John Bizjack, 21, KU senior from Tulsa, Okla. "If you're able to carry a rifle and be sitting in combat, you should be able to have a beer."

"I think it would actually reduce the binge drinking," said Felix Zacharias, 26, KU junior from Wichita. "Some people are going to drink a lot anyway, but for your first-timers out there that get really, really wasted and get a little out-of-control and do stupid things they wouldn't normally do, I think it would reduce a lot of that."

Rob Farha, owner of The Wheel, a bar at 14th and Ohio streets, said he supports reducing the drinking age. He said underage students are more likely to drink in dangerous environments if they can't legally drink in bars.

"When it's strictly (21) you get more and more house parties : and they have problems. You could have date rapes, the binge drinking," Farha said. "When you're in a controlled environment, like this establishment or any other, you don't have those problems."

But he also said 18 might be too young because it would allow many high school seniors to drink.

College presidents from Duke, Dartmouth and Ohio State are among those who have signed on to the movement, called the Amethyst Initiative. It began recruiting presidents more than a year ago to generate national debate about the drinking age.

The minimum drinking age has been 21 in the United States since the adoption of The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984.

- Higher education reporter Mark Vierthaler contributed to this report.


George_Braziller 7 years, 3 months ago

Would lowering the drinking age to 18 curb binge drinking? No. Should the legal drinking age be lowered back to 18? Yes. At that age you can vote, buy tobacco, be drafted, and are viewed by the courts as being an adult. Why shouldn't you be able to drink as well?

nobody1793 7 years, 3 months ago

College Presidents should run their colleges, and state legislators should make laws for thier state, not the other way around.(And the idea that there's no binge drinking at the "controlled environment" of wheel? That's just as naieve.)

Rationalanimal 7 years, 3 months ago

So, if you are old enough to sign up for the military at 18 (which most marxists want to ban on college and high school campuses anyway), then you are old enough get smashed. Well, then, that logic should apply to handguns as well. If you're old enough to sign up for the military and drink beer, then you certainly have the maturity to own handguns. So, the age for purchasing handguns should be dropped to 18 as well. That makes the perfect trifecta for a full on teen-genocide: autos, booze and guns, a real life Grand Theft Auto coming soon to the "nation's best-known universities."Good for KU showing some leadership and responsibility among a bunch of pandering whimps. It shows that KU is still interested in educating rather than entertaining. Let every other "prestigious" university train the next generation of alcoholics. KU grads will come to be respected as disciplined, dedicated, intelligent and mature people. That's what the nation's businesses are looking for, not AA wash-outs who have fryed their brains from kegs and bongs.

Eric Neuteboom 7 years, 3 months ago

The best argument I heard for lowering the drinking age was on NPR this morning. A university president said something along the lines of "if we lower the age, we can then begin a dialogue about responsible drinking, and avoiding binging. We can't do that now, because it's illegal (referring to telling the under 21 crowd about responsible drinking)."Seems a fairly antiquated law to me.

flyin_squirrel 7 years, 3 months ago

How about all the students that now drink at 18-20 and think breaking the law is fine. We are teaching them that the laws you don't like you don't follow.

WilburM 7 years, 3 months ago

Able to fight and die in [insert country/war] and unable to buy a beer?What is wrong with this picture?And college presidents do have a responsibility, as public figures and with thousands of students in their charge, to weigh in on important issues.

Fatty_McButterpants 7 years, 3 months ago

Of course Mr. Farha thinks the drinking age should be lowered. Most of his clientele is under the age of 21 anyway, so lowering the age to 18 would save him having to pay the fines for serving those people.Lowering the drinking age isn't going to do anything for binge drinking. The culture in our country is going to have to change for that to occur. Right now, any time there is a holiday, special event, birthday, etc., the emphasis is placed on getting drunk. Radio stations always advertise how many drinks you can get on the cheap. Parents demonstrate that drinking is cool by constantly diving into the cooler. Heck, I've even been to baptisms where the other side of the family showed up with cases of booze afterwards!Nope, lowering the drinking age is not going to curb binge drinking. Changing our countries mentality from "let's get wasted" just might.

davidsmom 7 years, 3 months ago

As shocking as this sounds, it is possible to have completely enjoyable social gatherings without drinking, losing control of your senses and everything else, putting lives and property at risk, doing something stupid you won't remember but later regret when you find out about it, and in general acting like an idiot. It is not necessary to drink to have plenty of fun. But for some reason totally unknown to me, much of our society has no ability to figure out that you can act mature and have fun at the same time.

pimp11 7 years, 3 months ago

I am all for raising the age from 18 to 21 to serve for your country. Enough said. Think about it people

Confrontation 7 years, 3 months ago

Maybe there wouldn't be a problem if adults weren't so obsessed with drinking. It seems like no one can plan an activity or go out for an evening without drinking some sort of alcohol. Grow up.

delta77 7 years, 3 months ago

fascinating,I might be wrong, but what I heard on NPR was that out of 102 studies, about half found that increasing the drinking age to 21 reduced highway fatalities. I doubt there have been 102 studies about lowering the drinking age to reduce binge drinking.However, I do fully support this initiative. MADD is an anti-alcohol extremist group attempting to bring back prohibition under the guise of "mothers" protecting society. It's about time a trustworthy group exposed them for what they are.

dweezil222 7 years, 3 months ago

An age of majority should be standard across the board. I don't personally give a rat's ass what it's set at, but it should be the same for everything.The minute the government tells me that I have to take a rifle and go shoot people I don't even know, but I can't down a Budweiser when I get done, is the minute I tell this whole country to f*** off and move to some little banana republic.

Steve Jacob 7 years, 3 months ago

More of the story..."Mothers Against Drunk Driving says lowering the drinking age would lead to more fatal car crashes. It accuses the presidents of misrepresenting science and looking for an easy way out of an inconvenient problem. MADD officials are even urging parents to think carefully about the safety of colleges whose presidents have signed on."It's very clear the 21-year-old drinking age will not be enforced at those campuses," said Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of MADD."Well said!

johnadavies 7 years, 3 months ago

I have been able to drink since I was 18 years old (because I'm "that" old) and, after some small problems in my early years, I currently never have more than single beer or glass of wine on any given evening. I know that there is a hefty portion of our world that has a problem with drinking and driving/walking/talking and maybe we need a "drinking" license that one can only get after going through a course of study that is pretty serious. This is in preference to the process where our friends take us out and get us plastered!

fascinating_person 7 years, 3 months ago

srj (Anonymous) says: "'It's very clear the 21-year-old drinking age will not be enforced at those campuses,' said Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of MADD.'Well said!"How is it 'very clear' that the drinking age will not be enforced at those campuses? I don't understand how encouraging dialougue about the drinking age has anything to do with law enforcement. And since it appears that Ms. Dean-Mooney failed to elaborate on her logic, I have to conclude that it was, in fact, NOT well said.I'd also like to add that it was said on NPR yesterday that of 102 studies on the subject, about half found that lowering the drinking age would reduce binge drinking, and the other half found no correlation whatsoever. So how do some suggest that lowering the drinking age would increase binge drinking?

fascinating_person 6 years, 11 months ago

sorry to bump an old topic, but i was looking over past discussions and noted delta77's response to my prior note.I looked up that NPR report (you can listen at and found that you're correct. I must have misunderstood the report. Thanks for clearing that up (although i wish my version of events were true!)

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