Trump’s presidency is indeed changing our world. We are beginning to see cultural and transnational transformations that have not yet been introduced in our modern society. Trump’s presidency has provoked social and cultural changes, as well as brought to light many issues that were previously overlooked. While we are in the middle of making progressive change, why not take that a step further to improve the societal well-being of students here in the U.S.?
One way we could do this is to decrease the legal drinking age. By legalizing those at age 18 or 19 to purchase and consume alcohol, we could change the stigma around “underage” drinking. Lowering the drinking age in the U.S. could prove to be beneficial.
It is estimated that 65 percent of students over the age of 18 regularly consume alcohol. Consider the percentage of students in college who drink underage. Even in places where alcohol is not permitted, it is clearly present. UMaine, for example, is both a tobacco-free and semi “dry” college campus. But if we suppose that the majority of students drink underage both on and off campus, we can assume that we don’t live in a substance-free community.
Alcohol is mistreated because oftentimes students haven’t been taught how to properly use it. We teach students early on that alcohol is dangerous in any scenario and can only be trusted with people over 21. Instead of teaching students how to drink responsibly, we encourage them not to drink at all. By the time they begin their first semester of college, some students consume enormous amounts of alcohol and can face many consequences. If caught underage, students may experience serious legal and personal repercussions.
We should reward students who use alcohol responsibly, regardless of their age.
Even if someone is of legal age, that does not guarantee they have the maturity to be responsible with alcohol. We need to teach our kids that alcohol use is a responsibility rather than a reward.
In the U.S., we raise kids to believe that alcohol is dangerous and a privilege allotted only to those of a certain age. However, the concept of maturity in terms of alcohol consumption is completely individualistic and varies culturally. In many other nations of the world, alcohol is not as regulated as it is here. In France, for example, the legal drinking age is 18, but many families allow their kids to drink before they reach legality. Canada also has a similar regulation for alcohol use.
If we want to prepare our students for the “real” world, we need to prepare them to use substances appropriately and safely. While we are considering the possibility of lowering the drinking age, we could also make cultural improvements to our own communities. If we lowered the drinking age to 18, we could begin to transform our own cultural suppression of alcohol consumption.