Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, August 18, 2021

Is it an indicator of how far back in my personal rear-view mirror the drinking-age debate is that I’m not at all convinced of the merits behind the Amethyst Initiative, an organization advocating a switch back to 18-year-old imbibing and founded by — improbably enough — college presidents?

“This is a law that is routinely evaded,” said John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College in Vermont who started the organization. “It is a law that the people at whom it is directed believe is unjust and unfair and discriminatory.”

Other prominent schools in the group include Syracuse, Tufts, Colgate, Kenyon and Morehouse.

Not that all school administrators are onboard:

McCardell cites the work of Alexander Wagenaar, a University of Florida epidemiologist and expert on how changes in the drinking age affect safety. But Wagenaar himself sides with MADD in the debate.

The college presidents “see a problem of drinking on college campuses, and they don’t want to deal with it,” Wagenaar said in a telephone interview. “It’s really unfortunate, but the science is very clear.”

Another scholar who has extensively researched college binge-drinking also criticized the presidents’ initiative.

“I understand why colleges are doing it, because it splits their students, and they like to treat them all alike rather than having to card some of them. It’s a nuisance to them,” said Henry Wechsler of the Harvard School of Public Health.

But, “I wish these college presidents sat around and tried to work out ways to deal with the problem on their campus rather than try to eliminate the problem by defining it out of existence,” he said.

And in fact, my Spidey-cynic tells me that the college presidents pushing the “debate” are engaging in subtle marketing for the much-sought-after incoming students: When word gets out that they’re pushing for a lower drinking age, I’m sure it’ll carry weight in many a final enrollment decision. To wit:

“Yeah dude, Tufts was just my back-up safety school, but when I heard that their prez signed a petition to change the drinking law to 18, I moved them to the top of the list! Party!”

Gotta keep those matriculation numbers up, y’know.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/18/2008 11:39:50 PM
Category: College Years, Society
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I’d never had occasion to visit the intersection of Lafayette and Worth Streets in Manhattan before skating past it during the City’s Summer Streets event two Saturdays ago (as well as this past Saturday).

When I did, I immediately noticed the ceremonial name attached to this stretch of Worth: Avenue of the Strongest.

Who are these “strongest”? They are, of all things, New York’s sanitation workers, and were bestowed this honorific back in 1996.

I’ve got no particular quibbles with giving these civil servants a street to call their own. But “avenue of the strongest”? I’m sure strength is a laudable virtue of the garbage collector, but to exalt to this degree seems extreme. The name comes off as vaguely totalitarian, like something that you’d come across in a history of Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany.

[image credit]

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/18/2008 10:53:35 PM
Category: New Yorkin', Political Theory
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