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Speaker continues debate about legal drinking age

Mustafa Ascha

Issue date: 9/25/09 Section: News
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Case Western Reserve University has never shied away from controversy. Case has brought contentious debates to campus for decades, even in the 1980s at the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic. "When it wasn't popular to talk about AIDS, we talked about it at Case," said Jes Sellers, director of University Counseling Services (UCS).

Now in 2009, UCS, along with Undergraduate Student Government, Share the Vision, and the support of several other campus organizations, raises the debate regarding the legal age of alcohol consumption to the Case campus.

On Sept. 18, over 100 people went to the Thwing Ballroom to hear John McCardell, president emeritus of Middlebury College and current president of Choose Responsibility (a nonprofit organization that encourages debate on the legal at 21 drinking age), speak on alcohol policies in the United States.

McCardell offered a brief history of current alcohol laws, explaining that in 1984, Ronald Reagan passed a bill that requires states to maintain a minimum drinking age of 21, or risk losing 10 percent of their highway funding. This was largely a response to an outcry by MADD regarding drunk driving accidents. He argues that this legislation may have been appropriate in the 1980s, but no longer applies.

McCardell emphasized how there are two very obvious and very conflicting facts regarding drinking among those ages 18 to 21: laws are such that nobody under 21 may drink, but countless surveys show that people under the age of 21 do drink. McCardell even cited one survey that concluded that 75 percent of college freshman report that they had consumed alcohol before even setting foot on their college campuses.

He emphasized how the law has not prevented young people from drinking, but instead prevented them from drinking in public. Because they now have to drink in private, underage people who are new to drinking are forced to drink where the worst outcomes can occur.

A video embedded in the Choose Responsibility presentation illustrated this inclination to irresponsibility in the absence of educated supervision: student upon student drank drink upon drink. At one point in the video, a student performed what is known as a "kegstand" until the people around him had counted to 77 seconds.
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In This Issue

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Fun Page

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Opinion

  • Editorial: Doc Oc memorial needs identification, context
  • Genocide rape should be treated as weapon of mass destruction
  • Large debates over drinking age missing the point
  • Legalizing drugs: a practical solution
  • Lifestyle changes for a green campus
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Focus

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  • Hitting the Spot: The Jackie Warren Trio
  • Jolly Scholar hosts weekly live music for CWRU musicians
  • Overheard at Case
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Cross Country

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Football

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Sex and Dating

  • Handling the aftermath

Soccer

  • Spartans come out fast, but Lions escape with win
  • Team jelling after slow start

Worst Case Scenario

  • The Worst Case Scenario
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