An Open Letter to President Ron Thom
I have a confession to make. Prior to achieving the legal age of twenty-one, I occasionally acquired and consumed malt beverages. I didn’t do it to “fit-in” or convince people that I was cool; I did it because I was bored and drinking is the collegiate pastime. Unlike many of my classmates I never carried a fake ID, had my stomach pumped on Halloween, nor did I ever bother to trek up to Vancouver B.C. where the drinking age is 18 because – frankly – it isn’t too hard for “minors” to get alcohol in the United States: especially in and around college campuses. As an underage minor, I never feared getting caught by a RA or CA or any other acronym, nor was I intimidated by campus security because – like the RAs and CAs – most of the people on patrol were fellow classmates who either similarly disapproved of the laws and university policies as written, or were too weary to actively enforce them on a campus as small as the University of Puget Sound where everyone ultimately knows everyone and poor reputations spring up almost as fast as tuition. Finally, I never feared about my parents finding out that I was drinking illegally because they were already fully aware and – although cautious enough to remind me to “drink responsibly” – were otherwise supportive of my decision. After all, both of them had been able to drink by 18.
In short, while the University can and has successfully reduced drug usage on campus – a product of a predominately drug-averse community – it will never successfully monitor underage drinking. On the contrary, the national restrictions on alcohol almost insure a vibrant underground of illicit activity that is probably far more hazardous to the public welfare than the more lax alternatives our neighbors in Canada and Mexico enjoy.
Therefore, I propose that you – President Thomas – executive of the University of Puget Sound, join the more than 100 university chancellors and presidents from around the United States in signing the Amethyst Initiative. By doing so, you will not be endorsing a move to reduce the drinking age to 18, but rather supporting actions that would allow state governments to start a debate as to whether or not our nation’s unusually high drinking age is promoting responsible drinking. A copy of this declaration can be located here.
Chris Van Vechten
UPS Alum 07
UPS Alums, tell President Thomas to sign the Amethyst Initiative at email@example.com