Amethyst Initiative: A bad idea!
Every day college students make numerous choices. Many of these decisions are inconsequential; however, some decisions can impact the rest of their lives. College students often make poor, life-altering decisions concerning the consumption of alcohol. As college campus leaders and responsible adults, we have the responsibility of encouraging students to make good decisions, decisions that will have a positive impact on their futures. We know that underage drinking is already a problem among college students; therefore, why would any leader on a college campus recommend a change in the law that would make alcohol more available to underage students?
A group of more than 125 university and college presidents has recently recommended that the legal age for alcohol use be lowered from 21 to 18. This effort to lower the drinking age is called the Amethyst Initiative. The term Amethyst comes from a Greek word that can be translated as “not drunk.” The proponents of the Amethyst Initiative claim that lowering the legal age for drinking alcohol to 18 would decrease the thrill of drinking excessively. Their logic makes no sense to me.
If the Amethyst Initiative is passed, alcohol would be more available to 18 to 21-year-old students, thus increasing the opportunity for students to drive under the influence of alcohol. We all know that thousands of people are killed each year because of drunk drivers. The impact of alcohol related injury and death takes a tremendous toll on our society. According to research conducted by Andy Lewis, research editor for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, alcohol abuse “exacts a societal toll of $184 billion in health care, criminal justice, social services, property damage, and loss of productivity expenses each year, in addition to as many as 105,000 alcohol related deaths annually.” Why would any rational thinking adult desire to increase the opportunity for more students to be driving under the influence of alcohol, adding to the death toll and to the cost to society?
Alcohol consumption is linked to risky sexual behavior and poses significant threats to the health of college students. Alcohol abuse impairs one’s ability to make good judgments about sex and increases the number of incidents of pre-marital sex among students. Sexual activity under the influence of alcohol can increase the risk of unplanned pregnancy, sexual assault, or contracting a sexually transmitted disease. I have known several incidents where young men and women have made horrible choices concerning sex while they were under the influence of alcohol. These bad choices often have a lasting negative impact on their lives. Why would we desire to make alcohol more available to our students, increasing the number of sex-related problems on our campuses?
In my 32 years of experience in higher education, I have had to make too many phone calls to parents to inform them that their child had been killed in an automobile accident. Alcohol was involved in one of these accidents when on Dec. 3, 2000, we lost three precious students. I hope I never have to make a call like this again to parents informing them that we have lost a student and they have lost a child.
In Prov. 20:1, we read: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Why would we college administrators want to provide more opportunities for our 18 to 21-year-old students to be deceived by alcohol?
I see absolutely no logic in the arguments presented by the Amethyst Initiative. I ask those college presidents who signed the Amethyst Initiative encouraging lawmakers to lower the legal drinking age to 18, what are you thinking? The Amethyst Initiative is a bad, bad idea! (Pat Taylor is president of Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar.)