Sparking Debate

McCardellToday I accompanied the Central Office Staff to a Rotary Club International Luncheon held at the Wildhorse Saloon in downtown Nashville. I expected to write my blog on how the luncheon could be used as an example of a Program for Excellence event. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised when I listened to Dr. John McCardell, the Vice-Chancellor of Sewanee, speak at the luncheon.

Dr. McCardell spoke briefly of how polling statistics used to rate colleges and universities is based on input rather than output, thus producing skewed results. That information alone could form an interesting blog about the debate of higher education, but that was not what caught my attention. What did was hearing that several years ago Dr. McCardell, along with 135 college presidents, initiated the Amethyst Initiative, an initiative to rethink the legal drinking age.
From wikipedia:  The Amethyst Initiative is an organization made up of U.S. college presidents and chancellors that in July 2008 launched a movement calling for the reconsideration of U.S. legal drinking age, particularly the minimum age of 21. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 requires all US states to raise their minimum age for purchase and public possession of alcohol to 21 or face a reduction in highway funds under the Federal-Aid Highway Act. The Amethyst Initiative was initiated by John McCardell, founder of Choose Responsibility, a former professor of history and President at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont and current Vice-Chancellor of Sewanee: The University of the South, and is currently supported by 135 college presidents who signed a statement proclaiming, “It’s time to rethink the drinking age”.
These higher education leaders 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 was incredibly engaging to hear Dr. McCardell’s opinion on the drinking age. Dr. McCardell crafted his argument taking a historical approach on the creation of drinking laws and following up with statistics favoring his opinion. Dr. McCardell posed the question: How are we supposed to expect our youth to drink responsibility if no one has ever taught them how to? We wouldn’t hand our children a car and expect them not to get into an accident without first teaching them how to drive.
I am not going to use this venue to describe my views on the subject, but rather I would like my post to be an advertisement encouraging discussion and debate.
I have been watching The West Wing recently and have rediscovered the reason why I majored in political science. I love well-informed debate and the decisions that follow. Debate and policy making is what this country was founded upon. I feel that there needs to be a debate about the drinking age. Negotiation cannot happen without debate, and historically there has been little debate on this subject.
Dr. McCardell was an engaging and informative speaker. It was great to hear his side of the debate. I urge Brothers to look into this situation and form their own conclusions. Remember that healthy debate is crucial to the formation of law and regulation.

One response to “Sparking Debate

  1. In the 1950’s the drinking age in IL was 18 for women and 21 for men – no known reason for the difference. WI drinking age was 18 for 3.2% beer. I agree children should be taught to drink at home and now experience it at college for the 1st time

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