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Monday, March 30, 2009

2009 Legislative Event

Each year, we try to focus on a public policy issue of special interest to the community during our annual Legislative Event. This year, we are tackling critical questions regarding the mandatory minimum drinking age. Is 21 Working, and is 18 the Answer?

I recently wrote a Letter to the Editor to area newspapers noting that high-risk drinking by college students needs to be viewed as a community issue. No one person, group, or institution is responsible for the problem, nor are any viable solutions likely to come from a single source.

College is a time for students to not only acquire knowledge and earn a degree, but to form character. In extremely few social settings other than a college drinking party is drinking alcohol to the point of gross intoxication seen as a feat to aspire to. Thankfully, by senior year, the vast majority of students have come to this same realization and adjusted their behavior accordingly. It is our most vulnerable students, the incoming freshman, who need the most guidance and oversight regarding their drinking behavior. How can we do this better?

Some would say that even opening a discussion on the legal drinking age is irresponsible. I disagree. 18 - 20 year olds deserve better than, “Just do as I say.” While the empirical facts of the issue may make the 18 or 21 question a “no-brainer” for many; real life makes it anything but simple answer. The discussion needs to be held openly and with respect for both sides of the issue. It is my hope that tonight’s forum provides just as an opportunity for learning. What better place to host this event than at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in its primary student center?

Steven G. Liga
CEO & Executive Director

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