Black Student Union Debates Drinking Age

Should it or Shouldn’t It?

The Black students Union at Mercy College held a debate where the topic was Should The Drinking Age Stay at 21?

The debate was hosted by keyona Rogers, president of the Black student Union and the judges were Ruvi  Tsokodayi ,Resident Director of   Residential life and Terrence Jackson ,Associate  Director , PACT.

The girls who included Racquel Miller, junior mathematics International Relations ad diplomacy,Najja Beauleu-Hains,sophomore sociology and Janelle Anderson, freshman social work  were for drinking age should be reduced to 18 while the boys  who included Dwight Thomas junior health science, occupational therapy, freedom. H. Weetes, sophomore TV/radio production, founder/ministry leader of campus ministry, Dion Mckain, freshman Biology were in support of leaving the drinking age at 18.

Janelle Anderson stated that the motive behind raising the drinking age was not clear, and said that in 1984 when the national minimum drinking age act was passed, any state that did not comply faced a reduction in highway funds under the federal Highway Act “the question that is now posed is if the drinking age was raised to save lives or to keep finding?, the states were prompted to raise the drinking age or risk losing millions in federal highway funds”.

According to Janelle, the raised age for drinking has forced teenagers to drink in a more abusive way and making the legal age 21 has not stopped teenagers from drinking but has instead pushed drinking into secluded areas such as locked dorm rooms, off campus apartments or even open fields which are less controlled environments and can threaten the lives of teenagers.

Janelle likened this situation of negligent drinking to the period in 1920 and 1933 when the Volstead act stated that the manufacture, sale and transportation of beer, wine and other intoxicating liquor was outlawed. And this prohibition caused people to start drinking in an abusive manner which caused an increase in the amount of people who drank.

“law makers have taken away opportunities for 18 -20 year olds to moderately consume alcohol with family which could be beneficial to teenagers and forced them into secrecy, and caused excessive and abusive alcohol consumption and as a result, their lives are being lost. The national minimum drinking age act may have effectively banished teenagers drinking in public view, however it has done little to reduce drinking and has led us into an era of binge drinking.

Raquel Miller who also like Janelle feels that the age limit should be reduced from 21 to 18 argued that America contradicts its self in some of their laws and that alcohol is not the only thing that influences one’s actions

“How can an 18 year old not be responsible enough to consume alcoholic beverages yet responsible enough to buy is own house, vote in an election, carry a licensed weapon, serve on juries and last but certainly not least join the army? The National Institute on Alcohol abuse and Alcoholism recorded that in most states people are allowed to get hunting licenses by age 12 and driving licenses by age 16.Basically without even trying, the federal government just proved my point, a 12 year old is mature enough to shoot an animal with a gun and a 16 year old can be entrusted to operate a two ton mass of metal but an 18 year old is not mature enough to drink?

Racquel further argued that being sad or happy influences the style and content of thought thus affecting one’s actions and therefore it would be safe to say that just like how alcohol affects one’s judgment so does their emotions, and so much as alcohol is said to affect parts of the brain that control judgment so can emotions as judgments often reflects one’s current mood.

“There is nothing wrong with consuming alcohol, it is the amount of alcohol you drink in any given situation that creates the problem and the lies the important factor that separates a mature adult from an immature one”.

Najja  Beauleu-Hains, just like her teammates stated “the national minimum drinking age act is futile” saying   that according to the Institute of Alcohol abuse and Alcoholism, there are only 5 countries in the world that have a minimum drinking age of 21 one of which is the US. There are 93 other countries that have a minimum a minimum drinking age of 18 or younger and 17 countries have no established drinking age.

“I, myself have experienced living in Germany where I was able to drink alcoholic beverages in public, at sporting events, night clubs religious festivals  as well as in my own home with family legally at 16 and I have never experienced any alcohol related accidents or witnessed them inside my home or out in public, though I am speaking from personal  experience ,researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol abuse and Alcoholism prove that teens coming from households like those in the US who aren’t allowed to drink, nor taught how to drink alcohol responsibly have more issues with alcohol, not to mention these inexperienced teens were more likely to overindulge in alcohol than those whose both the parents and the law allowed to drink in their homes”.

Najja’s example was   in the difference in alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the US in comparison with other countries like Germany, Australia, the Netherlands and Canada who have who have lower drinking ages.Najja said that research on alcohol consumption between 1982 and 1992 in spite of the risen drinking age to 21, the US experienced a lower rate of decline in alcohol related traffic fatalities than in any other country where such data was reported. She added that a recent statistic in the NY state department of motor vehicles summary of 2010, there has been a reported 8,108 alcohol related accidents 5,210 of these accidents were caused by drivers between the ages of 21 to 80.

“I have statistically proven that rising the drinking age to 21 was not only preposterous, but did more harm than good, Najja concluded.

The opposing team started their debate with Freedom Weetes who said drinking at younger ages would mitigate youthful desire for alcohol as a “forbidden fruit” more available to an even younger population, “forbidden fruit” with “low-hanging fruit.” And that the practices and behaviors of 18year olds are particularly influential on 15-17 year olds because if 18 year olds get  the OK to drink, they will be modeling drinking for younger teens and so legal access to alcohol for 18 year old will provide more opportunities for younger teens to obtain alcohol illegally from older peers.

“Due to recent research that has   been done on brain development, we have learned that the brain does not finish developing until a person is in their early  twenties, it appears that is not coincidental that fatalities increase as the drinking age is lowered .brain maturation culminates in the prefrontal cortex, this the area that controls judgments and weighing risks and consequences and studies show that this area is not fully developed until the age of 25 which means those under 25 are more likely to engage in thrill seeking activity, and less able to appreciate the consequences of risky behavior. Research shows that alcohol use during these formative years can cause long term, irreversible damage”.

Freedom added that it is well known that alcoholism is a serious medical and social problem in this country that has led to decrease in work productivity due to absentees ,divorce ,suicide ,increased medical problems, school drops outs and traffic collisions.

“drug use rarely begins as such but often begins as early onset alcohol use as the gateway for further experimentation, we know that alcohol use affects an adolescent brain differently than it does an adult we know that because of this addiction onset can occur much sooner in a teenager than an adult, the explicit aim of existing policy is to delay underage alcohol use as long as possible and even if use begins, to reduce its frequency and quantity as much as possible”.

Dwight Thomas says “I think we can all agree  that alcohol is a substance that if not consumed in moderation can have a fatal outcome, many people insist that lowering the drinking age would alleviate the youths desire to partake in the consumption of alcohol, but would it be an effective decision for our country?

Dwight stated that “in recent studies, it has been proven that since the US has assimilated to the drinking age of 21, we have saved lives, one study showed changing the age to 21 can be credited to saving over 18,000 lives between the years of 1975 an 1998”.

According to Dwight, many underage drinkers in today’s society believe that they are unconquerable and that the world is their playground which leads them to get behind the steering wheel of a car after they have consumed a great deal of alcohol which frequently leads to fatalities leading to the loss of the youth who could have turned out to be up standing citizens in society.

“Lowering the age not only causes fatal accidents but it also opens the gate way for college students to take part in binge drinking and many college students end up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning which can lead to the corrosion of the liver causing long term effects,. Do we want to send our youth to an early grave before their time”?

“A popular argument that is presented upon the mention of this topic is if I am old enough to fight for my country then I should be old enough to consume alcohol, there is only one imperfection in this theory and that is that department of defense regulations allows members of the active military who are under the age of 21 to consume alcohol in controlled environments. At all over sea military installations the drinking age is 18 unless international treaties or agreements mandate a higher agree, therefore  if your child is risking his/her life over sea, and there is a treaty prohibiting alcohol on base, he or she may drink at 18”.

Dion Mckain Said that safety should be the number one priority in law making and governmental decision making and that allowing a not fully developed essence to undergo harmful effects of a drug wad a little careless.

“Alcohol on a molecular level affects younger teens differently than it does those over the age of 21”.

At the end of this interesting and insightful debate, the 2012 trophy for the greater debaters went to the girls team who were argued   that the drinking age should be reduced to 18 years.

Terrance Jackson, Associate Director and Judge of the debate said “it was great to see the US judicial system at work at Mercy College and our students enjoying it, the winners held themselves to a higher sense of presentation and delivery and that is what won it for them.