CU to engage in drinking debate within coming month
Colleges and universities across the country are considering a proposal calling for renewed debate and discussion of the current drinking age.
The Amethyst Initiative proposes the drinking age be lowered in order to help control binge drinking among college students.
Some students say prohibiting alcohol can have the opposite effect than it was intended to have.
“Prohibiting (alcohol) makes you want to do it more,” said 18-year-old Devin Bozzelli, a freshman pre-journalism major.
Bozzelli says she likes to drink because of the experience she has.
“I don’t drink because I’m 18 and I’m sticking it to the man,” she said. “I drink because it’s fun.”
Her attitude toward drinking reflects the shared view of students on campus who say they feel like drinking in college is inevitable.
Conor Felletter, an 18-year-old engineering major, said he agrees with the nonchalant attitude students have towards underage drinking.
“(Drinking) happens,” Felletter said. “It will continue to happen. It’s not that big of a deal unless it’s in excess.”
Underage and binge drinking can be found on all campuses across the nation. Since the Amethyst Initiative took a stance in June 2008, the controversy surrounding drinking at universities rose to a new level.
Proponents of the Amethyst Initiative are demanding these institutions take an official position in the drinking debate.
CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said CU officials are remaining open-minded about the issue.
“We, as an institution, have not taken a position,” Hilliard said. “We believe it is worth listening to and worth discussing. We are not saying an outright ‘no’. We need to be convinced this is a good idea.”
The initiative argues that laws currently in place to curb drinking don’t stop underage college students from binge drinking.
Universities that have signed on to the Amethyst Initiative agree that abstinence from alcohol until age 21 is not helping the drinking problem.
So far, 130 colleges and universities signed the Amethyst Initiative including Dartmouth College, Duke University, Santa Clara University and Syracuse University.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Deborah Coffin says CU will be starting discussion regarding the initiative in the near future.
“We have not taken a position because we are approaching this from an informed, educated, knowledgeable position,” Coffin said. “We are collecting as much information as we can so we can make an informed, educated decision. We need some time to bring all the data together. We will start the conversation sometime next week, and it should evolve in the next month or so.”
The Boulder Police Department has not released any official statements about the drinking age debate directly from Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner, but police spokeswoman Sarah Huntley summarized Beckner’s opinion on the issue.
“(Beckner) has said he would like more debate and discussion about lowering the age to 18 if there are more education efforts,” Huntley said.
Chief Beckner will appear on “60 Minutes” this month to express his view on a new drinking age.
Hilliard says more than just the drinking age will have to be changed in order to help combat binge drinking.
“It’s the drinking culture that needs to be changed, not the drinking age,” Hilliard said.
For more information on the Amethyst Initiative go to theirWeb site.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Emily Zarka at Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org.