Why the Legal Drinking Age Should Be 18

Why the Legal Drinking Age Should Be 18

Twenty-one is too late.

Once upon a time, the legal drinking age in the U.S. was 18 in some states, rather than 21. It was a magical time we've heard about from our parents' college stories, like fairytales. The drinking reality now for young people between 18 and 20 is very different.

An estimated 78 percent of teens in the U.S. have consumed alcohol. Let that sink in – about 8 in 10 young people between the ages of 13 and 20 have had alcohol, a substance usually illegal for this age group. This statistic should have you shocked, but if you have stepped foot in West Campus during the weekend, or any college for that matter, or even just talked to basically any college student about their experience with alcohol, you’re not surprised at all. Drinking is a known reality in college, just as it was 30 years ago when the legal drinking age was raised, only now it is a reality that feeds on fear of punishment.

Many adults point to underage drinking deaths and accidents as proof of our need to not drink before the age of 21. What they should actually see is evidence of poor education of minors in regard to alcohol, the serious risk of hiding underage alcohol consumption behind closed doors, and the binge drinking culture that emerges from the restriction of alcohol to 21 year olds. The threat of an MIP charge, which bears potential for a fine, community service, suspension of driver’s license and a criminal record, hangs over the heads of young adult drinkers, encouraging risk-taking and undermining of the law in order to obtain alcohol.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 4,554 underage deaths occur each year due to excessive alcohol use. These are preventable deaths if teenagers feel empowered to seek help and are well educated on what to do in a situation of alcohol overdose, but the truth is that they are not. An intolerance towards alcohol in the political, criminal justice, and education systems leads to much minor misinformation and improper education. Fear of university repercussions and legal punishment keeps college and high school drinking underground and behind closed doors.

The minimum drinking age breeds illegal activity, ranging from simple alcohol consumption to an entire illegal market involving the creation and selling of fake ID’s. A study on the subject found that by sophomore year, about 32.2 percent of college students own a fake ID. On a campus like UT, that would mean about 2,300 students of each class of approximately 7,000 will own at least one fake ID by next semester. That is a lot of students considering the punishment for possessing a fake ID here in Texas can range from a $500 dollar fine to the possibility of a $2,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail.

Our country is only one of four developed nations in the world with a legal drinking age over 18, and of these it is the highest legal minimum drinking age in the developed world. The fear-driven alcoholic culture on college campuses in the U.S. leads to unregulated abuse of alcohol, evasion of police and reluctance to seek medical help, even when it is necessary.

The fact is that the vast majority of 18-20 year olds who do not drink refrain from doing so because they don’t want to, not because they can’t or because it’s illegal. Meanwhile, the 18-20 year olds who want to drink do, in spite of the legal drinking age and the potential punishments that accompany it.

We are 18. We are old enough to vote, to serve jury duty, to make a will, to get married, to buy cigarettes, to live on our own, to own property, to go to war and to have a job. We are endowed with all the rights and freedoms available to adults in this country except one – drinking alcohol. And this contradiction of adulthood and freedom with the inability to legally drink puts young adults at risk and needs to change.

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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'Welcome To Class! In Case Of A School Shooting...'

School shootings seem to be the new norm, my professors are supposed to tell us what to do in case it becomes our norm.

The first day of Spring quarter, I was given the usual rundown of the syllabus, we went over all of the normal things professors talk about on the first day, grading policies, attendance, etc. But I was shocked when my instructor explained the protocol for an active shooter situation should one take place on campus. My initial reaction was shocking, the only things running through my head is, that could never happen here, this is a waste of time. But as he continued to speak about it, I realized, that's probably what other students have thought too.

We are now five months into the year, and as of May 18th, there have been 22 school shootings in the United States alone. Some schools are preparing for these situations by updating their school security, making students have clear backpacks, and in our case, having a protocol ready if this occurred on our own campus.

So why aren't all schools doing these things? It does cost money, however, room needs to be made for these extra costs.

School is supposed to be a safe place, not a war-zone.

Clear backpacks may be a little drastic, however, more cameras, intercom systems at main entrances to allow access, and, of course, some type of protocol. Our teachers face enough stress in their day-to-day lives. By not funding these resources, we are saying we don't care about their safety. Dedicated teachers are ready to lose their life if it means they can protect their students.

They shouldn't have to.

Anya Kamenetz with NPR explains a good way to prevent school shootings would be to have more mental health professionals available in the schools themselves, while even creating a social-emotional curriculum. It is not, however, a good idea to target students because they may be introverted or uninterested in everyday activities. Would you enjoy someone being your friend specifically because they were scared you might shoot up a school? I didn't think so. Sadly, it always gets worse, before it gets better.

But the problem has become so widespread it's harder to stop and harder to pinpoint the issue. Stop focusing on politics, this isn't about one side or the other, it's about the loss of lives. Students not wanting to go to school because they fear for their lives, and even about having to worry if you'll make it through the school day.

If both sides of the political agenda could just genuinely focus on how to fix this problem and stop telling each other they're wrong, we may be able to stop this thing.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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