Amethyst Initiative, U.S. college presidents, The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, U.S. legal drinking age: i get together annually with an eclectic group of bright dynamic women. We met as college students and the legal drinking age in the state of our college was 18 for beer and wine and 21 for everything else. There were a few bad instances, but generally once the mistakes were made that was the end of it. Rarely were there legal or financial, much less medical, including psychiatric consequences to “learning to drink” in a close-knit community. Many of us have college age children now. Obviously the situation is very different now. Each of us has had a student or knows closely a student who has had to deal with the consequences of underage drinking. So what do we do ?
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 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”.
According to Greek and Roman legend, amethysts protected their owners from drunkenness.
Launched in July 2008, the Amethyst Initiative is made up of chancellors and presidents of universities and colleges across the United States. 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.
The Amethyst Initiative supports informed and unimpeded debate on the 21 year-old drinking age. Amethyst Initiative presidents and chancellors call upon elected officials to weigh all the consequences of current alcohol policies and to invite new ideas on how best to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use.