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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

Should Penn State Sign The Amethyst Initiative?

The Daily Collegian last week printed a surprising editorial, urging President Graham Spanier to sign on to The Amethyst Initiative.

The Amethyst Initiative, a hot button issue in the national news over the past few weeks, is a program of Choose Responsibly, a non-profit focused on the idea that Americans need to rethink the drinking age.

Since June of this year, nearly 130 college and university presidents from across the United States have signed on to The Amethyst Initiative, saying that it’s past time we had a new national discussion over how to handle the issue of alcohol for young people.

The signatories include the president of Ohio State University, University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins, Tufts and many more. At Penn State, though, President Spanier hasn’t exactly warmed to the idea of a dialog over drinking.

The Daily Collegian editorial board, though, threw its hat in the ring and called for Penn State to sign on to the initiative, saying “without an open discussion, nothing’s going to get better.”

PSU Should Join In Alcohol Discussion (TDC) Sept. 2, 2008

Mr. Spanier, we need to talk.

Everybody’s got problems. Some people are workaholics. Others have a problem with eating too much.

You’re the president of this university, Mr. Spanier, and our university happens to have a drinking problem. Consider this: More than 400 students visited the emergency room for alcohol-related reasons during the 2006-2007 school year. In 2006, there were 492 liquor-law-related offenses just on campus, according to the Department of Public Information at Penn State.

And despite the average age of Penn State students being 20 years old last fall, just 16 percent of them said they don’t drink, according to a 2006 Penn State Pulse survey.

Look, it’s OK to have a problem. And when a recent effort called the Amethyst Initiative called for an open discussion of whether the 21-year-old drinking age was working, it’s understandable that you didn’t “really have a sense about what the right thing to do is.”

But here’s the thing, Mr. Spanier. We can’t keep our problems bottled up. We need to talk about them. And we especially need to talk about them if you aren’t sure about the right course of action.

I’m excited to see that The Daily Collegian backs the ideas of The Amethyst Initiative. Given enough time, maybe our university president will come around to see the worth of such a discussion too.

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