youth_drinking_wideweb__470x314,0Last summer Fairfield became the first Jesuit University to sign onto the Amethyst Initiative. In doing so, it made public its motivation to facilitate discussions on campus about a change in drinking age.

“We are advocating for a discussion, not necessarily a change in the law,” explained Tom Pellegrino, the University’s dean of students.

Since signing on in July 2008, Fairfield has been joined by fellow Jesuit University Holy Cross, making the total number of signatories 135 at this time.

Despite the University administration’s attempt at making moves towards discussion about a possible change in the drinking age, it is not well known that these discussions are even happening among students.

“I had no idea they were a part of this initiative,” said Brittany Florin ’11.

Fellow student Joe D’Amico ’13 agrees. “I haven’t heard anything about it,” said D’Amico.

But Pellegrino said having conversations about a change in drinking age from the student perspective is an issue the University is focused on working on.

“Our reason for signing on was to have inspiring thoughtful conversations. We felt it was our responsibility to have discussions and still do,” said Pellegrino.
In terms of starting the discussion, Pellegrino urges students to decide if it’s an issue to them and than advocate accordingly.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t have conversations with students related to the alcohol issue,” said Pellegrino.

“I have yet to meet a student who is not interested in the subject as a topic of discussion,” he continued.

“I was unaware of the discussion, but I think it’s a great thing that the University is at least trying to discuss the options,” said Jenna Goldbach ’13.

But Pellegrino noted that it would be naïve to think that in reality a change in drinking age would not solve all the alcohol-related issues that exist on college campuses.

“It’s amazing the impact that alcohol has on the undergrad experience,” said Pellegrino. “Alcohol has such an effect on the over college experience from how time is spent, to relationships, eating and sleeping habits and socializing, to scheduling.”

What does it mean that we have to spend so much time addressing the alcohol question, he asked.

It is not just about changing the drinking age, but rather it’s about what’s occurring in college.
“It’s a balancing of good versus bad. But there is no question that college would change,” he said.

According to the Amethyst Initiative web Site, the signatories have signed their names to a public statement that the problem of irresponsible drinking by young people continues despite the minimum legal drinking age of 21, and there is a culture of dangerous binge drinking on many campuses. It is the aim of these signatories to have meaningful conversations about what should be done and if a possible change in law is the best solution.

But the solution to the binge drinking problem on college campuses is not an easy one to make.
“It’s impossible to tell what the ramifications would be,” said Pellegrino.

Many students feel that a change in law to lower the drinking age should happen for many reasons.

“I think the drinking age should be lowered. If you can go to war and shoot someone you should be able to drink,” said Erin McGrath ’12.

Other students feel that we should look to other countries as example of what the ramifications would be.

Sophomore Bridget Durnin said, “If the drinking age was lowered I definitely think it would increase drinking for young teens.”
“The difference between other countries like England and the U.S. are that here, people drink to get drunk,” she added.

Fellow sophomore Kristen Rydber agrees. “Europe has lower drinking age and not nearly as many problems.”

In a press release last year, University President Fr. Jeffrey von Arx, said, “binge drinking and clandestine drinking remain persistent problems among our college students, and it’s something that I think needs to remain at the forefront of our broader policy discussions. The Amethyst Initiative continues to be a vital means for facilitating this discussion.”

“Regardless of a change in law, kids are going to drink underage anyway, and I think if the drinking age were lowered, students would better understand the repercussions,” said Jansen Hafen ’10.

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.