Donna Shalala Won't Be Your Drinking Buddy
Hip university presidents piss me off. They walk down sorority row and share their hope that Chuck and Blair get back together on Gossip Girl. They drop by the student radio stations and after a few listens, are totally into that new XXXChange remix of Gang Gang Dance. They're so into Facebook now that they're starting to annoy the Dean of Architecture with the shear number of pokes.
And now they want to be able to grab a stool at the bar next to their 18 year old students. In fact, over 100 College President and Chancellors recently formed the Amethyst Initiative, which asks lawmakers to bring the drinking age back down to 18. They reason the current drinking age is creating a culture of binge drinking.
University of Miami President Donna Shalala is not a hip president, and has emerged as one of the few to strongly oppose lowering the drinking age. "Signing this initiative does serious harm to the education and enforcement efforts on our campuses and ultimately endangers young lives even more. I ask every higher education leader who has signed to reconsider. I am old enough to remember life on our campuses before the 21-year drinking rule. It was horrible," said Shalala in a statement. Her opposition carries extra weight, as she was Secretary of Health and Human Services under Bill Clinton.
The biggest loser we can see in lowering the age would be the fake ID industry. Visiting Coconut Grove on a Thursday is all the proof you need that Shalala's students are notorious underage drinkers. And with a lower drinking age, at least their parents can feel free talk to them about alcohol without mixed signals ("Don't drink until you're 21, but if you do, do it responsibly. Understand?") before they ship them down to Coral Gables.