E-mail Lis

Beer and cheerios? Breakfast of champions? Grilled chicken salads and a vodka cranberry?

I wonder what college dining halls would serve on the menu if the drinking age is lowered from 21 to 18? Will beer and wine be part of the "all-inclusive" meal plan on college campuses?

College presidents from 100 of the nation's most well known universities including Ohio State, Duke, Syracuse, and Dartmouth are asking lawmakers to consider this change. In fact, they believe that it will decrease the on-campus culture of dangerous binge drinking, claiming that current laws actually encourage dangerous drinking practices.

This initiative, known as the Amethyst Initiative, began quietly recruiting presidents more than a year ago to provoke a national debate on the drinking age. Its statement claims that, ''alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students.''

It seems as though these college presidents are choosing the easy way out to relieve themselves of the responsibility of enforcing the law while allowing high school administers to be burdened by the dilemma. But I don't think college president's want to boast of their institutions of hiring learning ranking number one on drinking!

Richard Brodhead, the president of Duke, wrote in a statement on the Amethyst Initiative's Web Site that having the drinking age set at 21 ''pushes drinking into hiding, heightening its risks.'' He also stated that it prevents school officials "from addressing drinking with students as an issue of responsible choice."

The statement, which the many college presidents have agreed to sign, argues that the current law is not working by noting that while adults under 21 can vote and enlist in the military, they ''are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.'' Additionally, the statement notes that by students choosing to use fake IDs they are making ''ethical compromises that erode respect for the law.''

They make a valid point, but we all know when it comes to teenagers on campus, we're not just talking about a beer or two. We're talking dangerous binge drinking. Plus, isn't it the college's responsibility to crack down on enforcing the law, not just turning a blind eye to violations of the law?

This movement comes at a time when the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest just filed suit against MillerCoors Brewing Company because the Center says Miller's alcoholic energy drink, Sparks, is targeting teens. The Center says that Sparks' juvenile website (featuring a drink called ''Lunchbox'' consisting of half Miller beer and half Sparks) and marketing are making a blatant appeal to teen ''would be'' drinkers.

If the Center for Science in the Public Interest considers teen drinking a serious problem, why aren't college presidents following suit?

I think we can all agree that alcoholism and binge drinking is a serious problem — and it's only more tragic when we're talking about our kids. This may surprise you, but research shows that more then 40 percent of college students have at least one symptom of alcohol abuse or dependence. So why would we want to shift the problem down an age group? Once you let high school seniors legally consume and purchase alcohol, this opens the gates to 15 year olds whose high school friends can purchase alcohol for them. This includes a group of individuals that just received their driver's license, and that's a scary thought!

As a mother of a fifteen year-old boy, I realize he's getting close to the age where - if these college presidents have their way — he could have access to beer from eighteen year olds that had legally purchased the alcohol. And as a parent trying to send the right message — i.e., just say no — this change to legalizing drinking would make my job harder. And that's before we even get to the problem of drinking and driving.

The CEO of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, noted that the majority of all peer-reviewed studies and other research by the Centers for Disease Control focused on this proposed change showed that a raise in the drinking age reduced drunk-driving deaths.

I just don't see why we would want to make it easier for younger people to have access to liquor. What would be the next step, legalizing marijuana because other countries have? Or maybe we can decrease gang shootings by giving gang members loaded guns?

If this proposal passes, freshman on college campuses will have an easier way to party and binge drink the moment they wave goodbye to their parents from their college dorm room. The only possible positive outcome of lowering the drinking age is the extinction of those ''McLovin'' fake IDs.

Sources:

College Presidents Promote Change in Drinking Age

College Presidents Seek Debate on Drinking Age

The information contained in this Web site feature entitled “LIS ON LAW,” is provided as a service to visitors of foxnews.com, and does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney client relationship. FOX NEWS NETWORK, LLC makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this Web site feature and its associated sites. Nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of your own counsel.

Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.