College presidents seek debate on lower drinking age

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College presidents from about 100 of the nation’s best-known universities are calling on lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18.

They say current laws actually encourage dangerous binge drinking on campus.

The movement called the Amethyst Initiative began quietly recruiting presidents more than a year ago to provoke national debate about the drinking age. The organization was started by former Middlebury College president John McCardell.

In New Hampshire, President James Wright of Dartmouth College and President Paul LeBlanc of Southern New Hampshire University signed onto the list. In Vermont, presidents of Bennington College, the Vermont State Colleges, Middlebury, the New England Culinary Institute, and Vermont Law School have signed on.

Some groups, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, says lowering the drinking age would lead to more fatal car crashes. It accuses the presidents of misrepresenting science and looking for an easy way out of an inconvenient problem.

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