Amethyst Initiative raises questions about drinking age

By Josh Wolonowski |

Since its inception in July, the Amethyst Initiative has sparked debate all over the country. More than 129 college presidents have signed on to the push that calls for lowering the drinking age below 21 years of age, according to

The objective of the initiative is to promote responsible drinking, and the organization’s mission states, “21 is not working. A culture of dangerous clandestine ‘binge-drinking’ — often conducted off campus — has developed.”

But while Flagler President William T. Abare Jr. believes binge-drinking is something that needs to be addressed, he doesn’t believe that lowering the drinking age is necessarily the best way.

“[The 21-year drinking age] currently is the law, and I support the law that is currently written,” he said. “I do see alcohol as a problem, as an issue and as a part of the growing-up process. I don’t think that the law will curve that or change the behavior by simply saying that we support a change.”

Abare said alcohol problems are being seen as early as elementary schools, and that it is an issue that society is going to have to deal with.

“We have got to treat it with as much care and concern as we do guns and drugs,” he said. “It is all a matter of moderation. [In young adults], there is a feeling of immortality and when combined with alcohol that becomes not only devastating, but lethal.”

Jaclyn Miklos, a 20-year-old Flagler student, said underage drinking has become a fact of life. “Even though we are going to school in a tourist town, the college students still find alcohol and the bars are over-populated with these underage students.”

The Amethyst Initiative calls for colleges to have informed and dispassionate debates concerning the drinking age. When it comes to having such debates here at Flagler, Abare said he would be willing to see them happen here if they looked at the pros, cons and merit of it.

Students are mixed on the need for debate. Jen Taylor, a 22-year-old Flagler student said it is somewhat pointless to discuss as students are going to drink no matter what the law says. While Miklos said she thinks it would be worthwhile as this is an issue for all students.

Abare agrees that binge drinking is an important issue for students and that more attention needs to be paid to it.

“It is important for students to understand that they are not immortal, and if they make a mistake it could cost them and others their lives,” he said.

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