As police continue to investigate the role excessive drinking may have played in Timothy Piazza's death, I am reminded of something called the Amethyst Initiative.

First, Timothy died after falling down stairs at a Penn State frat house during apparent hazing. His death, while ruled an accident, has drawn much suspicion because after he was found it took nearly 12 hours before anyone called an ambulance for him. Now comes the heartbreaking news that even once police responded he was still alive, but eventually passed away. Had help been summoned when the accident first happened he may have lived. Piazza was 19 years old and grew up in Readington Township in Hunterdon County. By all accounts he was an absolutely terrific guy.

Which brings me to the Amethyst Initiative. It is an idea signed off on by hundreds of college and university presidents who have seen firsthand the danger of binge drinking on campus. While we don't yet know if that played a part in the case of Timothy, we do know that it's a nationwide problem. The Amethyst Initiative calls for rethinking the drinking age in this nation. From, the following statement:

It’s time to rethink the drinking age

In 1984 Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which imposed a penalty of 10% of a state's federal highway appropriation on any state setting its drinking age lower than 21.

Twenty-four years later, our experience as college and university presidents convinces us that…

Twenty-one is not working

A culture of dangerous, clandestine “binge-drinking”—often conducted off-campus—has developed.

Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students.

Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.

By choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law.

The group doesn't specifically state the drinking age needs to be 18. But when citing the capability of voting, serving on juries, signing legal contracts, enlisting in the military, it becomes pretty clear. You only need be 18 for all these things. States went to 21 over time and mostly because the federal government taxed us then threatened to withhold our own federal tax dollars from our highway systems if we didn't comply with what they thought was best.

The question now is, was it really best? Yes, deaths went down. But awareness also went up for all age groups and safety engineering in automobiles improved over time as well. The point is, when you set an age of 21 making alcohol farther out of legal reach, it shrouds it with mystery that need not be there. When underage people do get their hands on alcohol, they tend to go overboard. Binge drinking. Look at other cultures around the globe that allow children an occasional glass of wine at dinner. They have far less problems with alcohol abuse. Setting the drinking age back to 18 demystifies alcohol.

Some will cite studies that the human brain does not fully mature until age 25 or so. If you're going to rely on that as your argument, then there's an awful lot of people between 18 and 25 who should be immediately let out of their cell phone provider contracts. Their marriages should be instantly null and void. Forget anyone in the military unless they start in their late 20's.

I believe the Amethyst Initiative is right. I believe the drinking age in the U.S. should be 18. It is hypocritical to ask a 19 or 20 year old to hold a weapon, stand post, and risk their life to protect their country without trusting them to drink a beer.

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