In his article titled How Bingeing Became the New College Sports Barrett Seaman argues that the binge-drinking epidemic on college campuses was caused by the policy of hiking the legal drinking age. His reasoning stems from his own experience of college life as he recalls the absence of such practice during his times. In this way, he proposes to revert the policy and return the drinking age back to 18 years old. However, it is hard to agree with the author on his point. Reducing the legal drinking age will not help because students binge not due to lack of legal access, plus it is unclear how the measure will change their drinking habits, and it does not address the internal motivation of students to drink.
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The first argument against reverting the policy is that age does not seem to be related to the volume of alcohol consumed. The author cites several cases before making his argument. For instance, Seaman mentions “a Hamilton College freshman who had consumed 22 shots of vodka while sitting in a dorm room with her friends” (Seaman n.p.). In this very example, he fails to address the natural question of what is going to stop young people from drinking the same amount of vodka at 18, be it legal or illegal. Alcohol poisonings are not clearly related to age but rather to the number of drinks one had.
The second argument for keeping the policy intact is that it is unclear how lower legal age will change the drinking habits of students. The author mentions that, during his college years, he and his friends also used to drink. Yet, Seaman used to have some beer when partying (Seaman n.p.), and modern college students shifted to consuming almost identical volumes of hard drinks. The most obvious explanation for that is probably that youth nowadays drinks with a different purpose than it used to. In this way, there is no guarantee that the habit of consuming hard drinks will go away with the lowering of the legal age.
Finally, Seaman’s argument does not consider the motivation for drinking. It has become common knowledge that the American population suffers from an immense amount of depression and related problems. College students are no exception as they experience a lot of stress. Freshmen need to adapt to a new, unfamiliar environment. Sophomores and older students often have problems related to high-performance demands. All of these are good reasons for one to try decreasing the psychological distress. The author’s position does not address that at all. Only in cases of some miraculous coincidences, policies that are not thoroughly thought may work. Seaman’s proposal, as it is presented in his paper, does not appear to be like one.
In this way, it is only left to conclude that a simple lowering of the legal drinking age back to 18 years old is very unlikely to deal with the problem of college binge drinking. This policy does not take into account such important factors as the formation of drinking habits and the internal motivation of students for bingeing. It does not even try to make the connection between age and the practice of binge drinking clear. Thus, the author’s arguments from personal experience do not stand against the criticism, and that is why reversing the legal drinking age should not be done.
Seaman, Barrett. “How Bingeing Became The New College Sport”. TIME.Com, 2005, Web.