15 Greeks and a DAPA

John McCardell, former President of Middlebury College, visited campus yesterday. The Daily D reports that McCardell met with fifteen Greek leaders and one Drug and Alcohol Peer Advisor to discuss his support for changing the current drinking age—something he has called, “bad social policy and terrible law.”

McCardell’s ideas are interesting, even when somewhat flawed. He suggest lowering the age to 18 from 21. A person would, however, upon turning 18, need to pass a test (much like a driver’s test) before he could drink. This novel idea is intriguing but ultimately ineffectual: The entire freshman class had to pass an alcohol awareness test to come here. Those on campus can judge for themselves the effectiveness of that test.

Also problematic was an advisor of McCardell’s assertion that “a drinking age of 18 allows one’s family to play a role in teaching drinking responsibility, as opposed to a drinking age of 21, when students are generally living away from their homes.” Yes, that whole month or two of legal drinking at home will sure set Johnny straight before he gets to college.

I don’t mean to dismiss this point lightly, for I believe they are on the right track. In order to fully inculcate the youngster, however, it would be better to lower the legal age to 16, with maybe hard alcohol at 18 (this is Switzerland’s approach). Another option may be to make the legal drinking age 18 when outside of the home, but to allow parents to teach their children safely and legally about alcohol when at home.

All of this, is to say that Mr McCardell will need to tighten a few screws on his campaign before it can withstand the pressure that MADD is sure to bring to bear.