Legal Drinking Age

By Rachel Pacarro and Chad Fujihara

In efforts to lower the amount of binge- drinking on school campuses, about 130 Chancellors and Presidents of College and Universities around the U.S. signed on to the Amethyst Initiative, which may require the lowering of the legal drinking age.

The Amethyst Initiative asks that the public rethink the legal drinking age and open discussion about the problems of excessive drinking amongst the youth of the nation. Those signed on to the initiative believe that the 21-year old limit is not working, and that there are increasing risks.

Amethyst Initiative

The Amethyst Initiative began in June 2008, when John McCardell, President Emeritus of Middlebury College and Founder of Choose Responsibility, was invited to speak to about 120 liberal Arts Colleges. Upon preparing for his speech, he collected thoughts of other Presidents who were friends of his, on the 21-year old drinking age. This led to the desire to reopen the debate on the drinking age and a place where they could represent their views.

The word “Amethyst” is derived from the Greek words meaning, “not” (a-), “intoxicated” (methustos). In Greek mythology, there was once a girl named Amethyst who was subjected to anger by the God Dionysus, after he was intoxicated with red wine. Amethyst asked the Goddess Diana for help, and was turned into a white stone. When Dionysus found out what happened, he began to cry. His tears fell into his goblet of wine, and spilled over onto the white stone, turning it purple.

The Amethyst is believed to be a cure to the negative effects of intoxication, preventing drunkenness and promoting moderation.

Many oppose the Amethyst Initiative, believing that lowering the drinking age will increase deaths and safety risks. Underage drinking is the #1 youth drug problem in this country. Research also shows that the earlier one starts to drink, the more likely they will be alcohol dependent and drive drunk.

Statistics also show that about 5,000 people under age 21 die each year due to underage drinking.

The debate on the Amethyst Initiative has created such controversy with the public, but the main focus on both sides seems to be the emphasized education factor.