University Business - October 2008 - (Page 8)

EDITOR’S NOTE A Long Overdue Conversation strAnge And inspiring thing happened this summer. higher education grew a backbone. in July a group of 100 college and university presidents calling themselves the Amethyst initiative came forward with the not-so-surprising news that young people on college campuses drink alcohol before they reach the legal age of 21. ethyst initiative. At press time, 130 higher education leaders Underage drinking is a serious issue for colleges and uni- had signed the Amethyst initiative presidential statement, versities. it’s also a serious issue in high schools across the seeking to begin a national dialog on a very serious issue. country. And high school drinkers don’t stop just because “this is not a simple question,” says signatory richard they get to college. As a result, underage drinking leads to Brodhead, president of Duke University (n.C.), “but the curdangerous, secret binge-drinking, among other problems. rent answer is also not an effective solution to the problem.” the Amethyst initiative calls on true, nearly as many college preselected officials “to weigh all the conidents have spoken out against the MADD’s admonition had sequences of current alcohol policies group’s proposal—and that’s the way the opposite effect. Even and to invite new ideas on how best to debate is supposed to take place. prepare young adults to make responBut MAdd’s response is, to paramore presidents joined sible decisions about alcohol use.” phrase: “We’ve done the research. the Amethyst Initiative. the news, predictably, drew the ire here it is. end of discussion.” of Mothers Against drunk driving, that’s not good enough. which zeroed in on the suggestion that it is time to “rethink “As my mother taught me, the sign of either stupidity or the drinking age.” that became the misleading headline that stubbornness is to keep doing the same thing in the face of ran in newspapers around the country: “College presidents failure,” says Lawrence schall, president of Oglethorpe Uniwant to lower the drinking age to 18.” versity (ga.). “i know i don’t have the answers, but i also since it was founded nearly 30 years ago, MAdd has know that the status quo has failed. i signed the presidential done wonderful things to educate people about the dangers statement not because i think there is an easy solution out of drinking and driving, and should be applauded for these there, but because we need to be talking about solutions.” efforts. But by reframing the debate, the organization has elisabeth Muhlenfeld, president of Sweet Briar College diverted attention from the real issue to a phony one that (Va.), is another Amethyst initiative signatory. Writing in this “plays in peoria.” month’s independent Outlook column, she notes, “if after a We should note that nowhere on the Amethyst initia- rigorous examination of the existing public policy lawmakers tive website ( does it say that the and constituents believe 21 still makes sense, so be it. But we legal drinking age should be lowered to 18. need to put this issue under the microscope.” But people hear what they want to hear. Whether you agree with the Amethyst initiative position MAdd issued a statement that encouraged the signers or not, this is a conversation that is long overdue. ignoring to remove their names from the list, and even hinted that the elephant in the room will not make it go away. additional pressure might come from state governors in the form of withheld funding. somewhat surprisingly, MAdd’s admonition had the opposite effect. even more college presidents joined the Am- Write to Tim Goral at A 8 | October 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - October 2008

University Business - October 2008
Editor's Note
College Index
Company Index
Advisory Board
Behind the News
Future Shock
On the Hill
The Changing Chaplaincy
Stop, Thief!
Chief Business Officers Speak Out
Independent Outlook
Internet Technology
What's New
End Note

University Business - October 2008