Thursday, August 23, 2007

Middlebury Redemption - Rock On, John McCardell!

At least there's someone out there redeeming the uber-free-thinking-out-of-the-box liberal arts ideals that I'd like to think my college stands for. (For a counterpoint, see my previous posts on Midd alum Ari Fleischer here and here.)

I caught our former college president, John McCardell, Jr. (what a badass - he has his own Wikipedia entry) on CNN American Morning this morning articulately advocating for a drinking age of 18 on behalf of his non profit, Choose Responsibility. Naturally, he was opposed by MADD and some tool from highway safety whose best argument went something like "well, kids start drinking when they are 13 now, and if you lower the drinking age to 18, then, well, they'll be alcoholics in elementary school. Yeah."

Yup, of course. That's exactly the cause and effect that we see in the more permissive European countries (such as Germany) where they allow kids to drink (gasp) even younger than 18. Even more shocking, many countries prohibit the operation of a deadly weapon - I mean motor vehicle - until 18, and have rigorous coursework and tests for a driver's license. That would just be such a trampling of our entitled freedoms in the United States if kids couldn't drive until they were 18.

And of course it's such a high honor and privilege to be allowed to serve your country and be killed, tortured, horribly maimed, and irreversibly damaged at age 18, 19, 20.... But you have to wait an extra three years for the weighty and dangerous responsibility of alcohol. [Pure young bodies for the sacrificial slaughter?]

I'm pretty sure that John McCardell knows a thing or two about underage drinking after running a college for a few years. That's usually a pretty hot issue. During my time at Middlebury, the alcohol policy was pretty permissive, and I think it worked. If you were underage and security caught you with hard alcohol or a keg visibly in sight, they'd often confiscate it. But they didn't do the kind of hard-line alcohol bans that end up forcing college students drink copiously in secret before going out to parties where they know they won't be served. A lot of parties were allowed to go on, and security would wander through pretty often to make sure no one was in danger or unconscious or ill. Middlebury's primary concern was for the students' safety. The security officers were friendly, non-confrontational, and concerned, which made us trust them, and trust the school. ("Dave The Security Guard" whose last name I've long forgotten if I ever knew it exemplified this attitude. My roommate and I proudly ran up to Dave to show him our passports on the first day of senior year, the first time back at school that we were the hallowed age of 21.)

Anybody with a kid knows the more you forbid something, the more mysteriously appealing it is. So, my point here is really "Rock On, John McCardell!" I'm on your bandwagon! Make us proud.

1 comment:

Steven said...

Well, there was some background on "Dave the security guard," including the fact that he himself had been a meth fiend for a while. Made him a bit more understanding of a little bit of boozing...