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Mike Bryant
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Should the Minnesota Drinking Age Be Lowered?

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This week a large number of US college and university presidents have suggested that the drinking age be debated concerning whether the age limit should be 21 or 18. The idea is that this could combat binge drinking on campuses . In a statement signed by 104 presidents, they concluded that the present law fosters a culture of “dangerous, clandestine binge-drinking” in which “students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law.” Here in Minnesota there were 2 student drinking deaths within 2 months at Mankato State, a campus with only 14,500 students. 2007 also saw drinking deaths at Winona State and the University Of Minnesota. Each of these young deaths were tragedies. In response Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) have argued that the Presidents don’t want to handle the problem of drinking on their campuses and are just arguing to legalize it as way out of the problem. Calling college binge drinking the result of a perfect storm of affluence, opportunity and tolerance on campuses Madd opposes any changes.The Presidents have suggested that legalization will move the drinking out into the open and into bars and out of hidden parties. The age issue was last dealt with when federal law mandated a 10 percent cut in federal funding for highway in any state that didn’t have the 21 year old rule. To not lose money many states really had no choice.
It is most likely this is a debate that will go on for some time. Clearly everyones goal is to reduce drinking and driving and any binge drinking deaths. Whether lowering the age is the answer seems to depend on who you ask and what study they are using. Minnesota should not see deaths like this and each view should be studied as to what answer can help prevent future deaths.