Dear Staff, Faculty, and Students,
As you may know, I have joined more than 125 other presidents and chancellors of colleges and universities in signing the Amethyst Initiative. It calls for a renewed and informed debate about the legal drinking age of 21. Why? Because as educators, we want young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol, and we question whether the current law leads to behaviors that are irresponsible and, often, dangerous.
For the exact statement, see http://www.amethystinitiative.org/statement/.
The Amethyst Initiative began with an invitation from John McCardell to a group of college presidents. John is no stranger to W&L, being a member of the W&L Class of 1971, a member of our Board of Trustees and the father of a current student. He asked my colleagues and me to consider reopening the debate on the drinking age. McCardell brings a knowledgeable background to his concern. He is president emeritus of Middlebury College and someone who has studied the issue for many years.
The initial news coverage of this effort has triggered vigorous debate, which, in the best liberal arts tradition, is healthy and important. Like the other presidents who have signed the Amethyst Initiative, I believe that the significant problems created by some college students' abuse of alcohol demand thoughtful consideration of whether or not public policy in this area has worked, and what alternatives we might consider.
While my fellow signers and I welcome the debate, I do want to clarify some elements of the conversation as it has unfolded through the media.
I welcome your thoughts as I continue this vital discussion with the other Amethyst participants, and with all of you.
President Kenneth P. Ruscio