Not Working Indeed

Drinking regulations should be reconsidered with aid of college presidents to ensure health and safety of students.

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You might as well be searching for Atlantis if you're searching for a truly dry college campus. With alcohol easily the drink of choice at universities across the nation, UC Berkeley is no exception. And asking for input from heads of colleges when contemplating liquor policies isn't a bad idea, considering the experiences they've had dealing with those who straddle the legal drinking age.

Although the Amethyst Initiative seeks to begin this process, we remain circumspect of its underlying purpose. Undoubtedly, it's easier to convince university leaders to sign on to an open discussion to explore how the 21-year-old drinking age is "not working" (in fact, 129 already did), rather than to outright advocate for more lenient alcohol regulations on their campuses. But the initiative raises broader issues.

It's always been perplexing for alcohol to remain off-limits to 18-year-olds while they're free to die for their country, cast a vote and buy cigarettes and porn. And just to be clear, this stance comes from an editorial board composed of members who are both over and under the legal drinking age.

But more importantly, loosening alcohol restrictions could gradually promote an open drinking culture, creating an atmosphere in which the urge to engage in dangerous underground drinking becomes unnecessary. Lowering the age limit for non-hard liquor and mitigating public possession laws are possibilities.

Whether or not these measures would actually decrease binge-drinking is up in the air. But if policies regarding drinking are less stringent in general, those whose health-or lives-are at risk as a result of having one too many would not be as tentative to approach authorities for help.

With drinking being nearly synonymous with college life, a more tolerant alcohol policy that recognizes reality is one way for campuses to better ensure the well-being of their students.

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