Colleges all over the world are debating with lawmakers about the idea of lowering the drinking age to 18.
Recently, college presidents are asking lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age to 18 specifically on college campuses to decrease the dangers of binge drinking, according to multiple newspaper reports.
The reports showed that some colleges pushing the idea include Syracuse, Ohio State, and Duke.
By definition, binge drinking is the consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time.
But what is Michigan State University thinking?
Sally Nogle, Head Athletic Director at MSU, goes back and forth with this issue and is not sure of how effective this law would be.
“I’m not sure it would change the binge drinking,” Nogle said. “I would hope it would, but I think right now that seems to be a college thing no matter what your age is,” she said.
According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, about 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings people’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams. Usually happening when men consume five or more drinks and women four or more drinks within two hours.
A survey conducted by the NIAAA showed, of American adults (age 18 and up), 28 percent of women have participated in binge drinking as well as 43 percent of men.
This proves that young adults may not drink as often as older adults do, but drink a lot more alcohol when they do drink.
Rebecca Allen, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Health Educator of the Olin Health Center at Michigan State University said, “A lot of students have the misperception that drinking in college is the norm.”
Allen and others at the MSU Olin Health Center created a Social Norms Campaign, commonly known as the “duck” campaign.
This campaign allows for students to become aware of the common misperception college brings to alcohol and drugs. It can help educate students and create protective strategies in cases of binge drinking, Allen said.
Information from ProCon.org, a nonprofit public charity website that provides research and insight on controversial topics, said that in the 1970’s, some states experimented with lowering the drinking age to 18. Michigan was the first state to push the age limit back up to 21.
Mona Davis is the Associate Director of Prevention and Training Services (PATS), which is an organization established to create programs to reduce various criminal behaviors.
“We’ve tried that before. It didn’t help,” Davis said.
Daune Rensing, Academic Coordinator of Student-Athlete Support Services at Michigan State University, believes that this time around will be unsuccessful as well.
“So many people can’t handle everything else that’s going on let alone the social side of things, they can’t handle the drinking responsibly,” Rensing said.
1,825 students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, while 25 percent of academic problems relate to drinking and alcohol, the NIAAA said.
Sue Carter, journalism professor at Michigan State, said, “I think opening the doors wider, making it more positive experience, would not help the academic environment.”
Carter also said she believes Michigan will not be lowering the drinking age in the near future.
On the other hand, to some MSU faculty, the MSU counseling center and various debate websites, lowering the drinking age to 18 there will be a positive impact.
For example, Allen thinks the drinking age right now is “artificially set too high” because she said that if an 18-year-old can make the decision to fight for our country, they can handle other responsibilities.
Sources say lowering the drinking age may be helpful among college campuses because the age 18 is the introduction to adulthood.
Nogle said she agrees that young adults should be able to make a mature decision.
“Research shows that we have more problems if you lower the age, but I feel like in college if you can go to war at 18 and vote at 18 I’d rather have you start drinking early and it not be a penalty,” Nogle said.
So, will Michigan give the 18-year-olds another shot?