i An Argument for lowering the Drinking Age | COLLEGE WRITING: DEBATE(S) IN HIGHER EDCUATION

Shiela Mae Holder

The drinking age should be changed from twenty-one to eighteen in Wisconsin, the state where St. Norbert College is located. Students at the age of eighteen are responsible enough to make smart decisions. They are already legal to do many things that other adults can do, such as working, voting, driving, and even sacrificing one’s life in the military. Students who are already eighteen and responsible enough to do many other things that are legal should be permitted to drink. Also, colleges and universities like St. Norbert College should not enforce the drinking age just because the federal government blackmail’s the states into raising the drinking age to twenty-one.

The Philippines, where I came from, has laws that allow eighteen year olds to drink. However, the drinking age laws are not enforced. Even though a person is younger than eighteen, that person can drink anywhere. The Philippines, especially in my hometown of Bacolod, has a lot of occasions like Masskara and Panaad festivals. These are the kind of occasions that allow people to drink in public. In such situations, the police officers do not care whether young people drink as long as they know how to behave themselves. This does not cause any serious problems. In the Philippines, even though the government has laws about drinking, many people decide for themselves whether or not they will drink. Even teenagers are considered old enough to make decisions about what is best for them. Until recently, when I lived in the Philippines, I could drink whenever I wanted to.  But that freedom to drink did not encourage me to go out at night or hang out with my friends and drink. The government allows Filipinos to drink without enforcing the age limit, but a lot of Filipinos are smart enough not to drink a lot at one time.

These are some of the reasons why I think the drinking age should be eighteen.  It is dangerous when the law sets the drinking age at twenty one, because the adults who are younger than twenty one will be forced to drink secretly and make fake ID’s to enter bars. Oftentimes students in their first year in college start drinking, but because of the drinking age law, students tend to drink secretly. It is much safer when young adults do not need to hide somewhere just to drink. Sometimes young adults end up in jail for drinking. This turns a normal young adult into a criminal just because of breaking the laws regarding the drinking age.

The law cannot stop younger people from drinking, anyway. Recognizing this, in Minnesota, a veteran state representative, Phyllis Kahn, has introduced a new law that would allow eighteen year-olds to drink openly at a restaurant, bar or sporting event. Yet, under the proposed law, eighteen year olds would not be allowed go to a liquor store to purchase beer, wine or hard alcohol. The second law regarding the drinking age that Kahn is attempting to implement would allow eighteen year-olds to drink in a bar or restaurant as long as they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Society does not need to put unnecessary restrictions on people who are responsible and old enough to make decisions for themselves. This principle applies to the drinking age, therefore, the drinking age should be lowered from twenty-one to eighteen. Even though I think it is right that we should change the drinking age to eighteen, another person might strongly believe that the drinking age should remain twenty-one because of the responsibility and safety aspects of the current law. For example, younger adults might be more prone to drink and drive.  Also, another opponent of my view might say that changing the drinking age to eighteen would be harmful because many eighteen year olds are still in high school and they might influence other students who are younger than eighteen. It is true that people who are younger than eighteen should not start drinking because they still cannot manage alcohol and it is bad for their health. But I still think it is a good idea that the drinking age should be lowered to eighteen so they will know how much alcohol they can manage and they can get used to drinking.

Also, lowering the drinking age will prevent crime for younger adults because they would know how to manage themselves in special circumstances like sexual assault. Sexual assault happens often among students. That is why colleges like St. Norbert College have rules about sexual assault (also known as “date rape”). The rules at St. Norbert about Second- Degree Sexual Assault, item seven, says that “Assault upon a person that the perpetrator knows is under the influence of an intoxicant to a degree which renders the victim incapable of appraising his or her conduct, an act popularly known as ‘date rape.’ This constitutes as [sic] a Class BC felony.” It is much safer for students, if students do not need to drink secretly because sometimes sexual assault happens when young adults start drinking secretly with their friends or hide in the dorms with their friends. One person might object that lowering the drinking age would create a drinking culture where sexual assault become more common. However, sexual assault can be prevent by allowing students to drink anywhere, so that students do not need to hide in their dorms just to drink. Therefore, the law should not stop younger adults when they know what is right and wrong because a lot of younger adults can be responsible even in regard to drinking.

In college writing class, our teacher asked our opinion about the drinking age. In class, my classmates and I offered our ideas and opinions about the drinking age laws here in the United States. The majority of my classmates said the drinking age should be lowered from twenty-one to eighteen. Among the reasons given in class were: this will prevent crime like sexual assault, students are legal to live on their own and get married, and drinking is a way to socialize with friends. Some students come from different countries and have different perspectives about drinking.One of my classmates, named Rebecka, comes from Sweden (see Rebecka’s comments In process assignment in snoodle sixteen- seventeen). She said that in her country once you are already eighteen, you are allowed to drive, vote, smoke and even drink. These are not an issue in her country. Rebecka also mentioned that, in the United States, the government allows children who are younger than eighteen to drive a car which is very dangerous. Rebecka said that the United States has a very strict drinking policy but not a strict policy about smoking. Young adults object that if the correct age for allowing smoking is eighteen then that should be the age for drinking too.

Also, it would be good for universities and colleges if the drinking age is eighteen because they would not need to police student drinking inside their dorms or elsewhere on campus. Colleges and universities do not want bad reputations from students ending up in jail because they drink at their school. Also, it might be good for the parents to send their children to the colleges and universities without worrying that their children might end up in jail. Most parents do not care that their children drink in college; they would rather that their children stay out of jail and avoid big fines.  Only a few years ago at SNC, a student was fined almost $30,000 for allowing other students to drink at a party held at his off campus apartment.  The student bought a keg of beer and charged other students $5 per cup to drink the beer.  The party was raided by the police and the student was fined nearly $1000 per student who attended the party.  This is a unjustifiable price to pay for breaking a law that most students break every week anyway.  Also, parents of students who come from countries where drinking alcohol is normal for their country would rather send their children to colleges and universities where the drinking policy is not an issue. Parents in other countries who send their children to the United States, for the purpose of letting their children have different experiences outside their own country, may not do so because of the drinking policy issue.

For all of these reasons, the law should be changed. Young adults have a right to drink and are old enough to take care of themselves.

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