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01-03-2011

Amethyst Initiative

To: The Clarkson Campus & Alumni Community
From: President Tony Collins

Earlier this year I joined the Amethyst Initiative to spur national debate on the legal drinking age. Publicly launched in July 2008, the Amethyst Initiative is made up of chancellors and presidents of universities and colleges across the United States. These higher education leaders have signed their names to a public statement that the 21-year-old drinking age is not working, and, specifically, that it has contributed to the creation of a culture of dangerous binge drinking on their campuses.

With input and support from the senior leadership of our Student Affairs administrators, I joined the initiative because I believe that universities can most effectively engage students in developing personal accountability with alcohol when they are given opportunities to interact openly with their peers and other members of their community in socially responsible ways.

Clarkson faculty, staff and students learn and live together in a highly collaborative community. We are in the business of educating students both inside and outside the classroom. We fully abide by the legal-21 law with an admitted amount of frustration because we know that enforcement on our campus drives underage drinking out of public sight and limits opportunities to role model and encourage appropriate behavior with alcohol.

We have more in common with persons on the opposite side of the debate than we have differences and it is in those common areas that the debate and future action should focus. All sides of the debate wish to avoid the negative consequences associated with poor choices around alcohol consumption, most significant among those being drunk driving. I believe we all endorse full enforcement of those laws.

As a nation, however, we are not addressing the more systemic issue of excessive drinking among some cohorts of our youngest adults - adults with voting rights, adults serving our country in military uniform and adults building families in our communities. We have taken the easy road in trying to legislate behavior rather than focus on teaching and instilling personal responsibility. As a college educator, I am committed to promoting an open dialogue where responsible choices are respected, and where we role model the kinds of behavior we seek to inspire for a safe and well rounded campus life.

Just as we support open dialogue about these critical issues impacting our society, our University�s participation in the Amethyst Initiative is intended to bring alcohol issues out in the open, encourage productive conversations about the real issues we seek to address and work towards solutions that address the mutual concerns of all who are impacted by the personal decisions individuals make when they consume alcohol. We offer the AlcoholEdu program to all first-year students and others on campus health and wellness initiatives. Clarkson in no way condones underage drinking and will continue to enforce the age-21 law on its campus. We do endorse and ask for the debate of this law to begin.

As always, I welcome your comments to me at president@clarkson.edu .

You can find out more about the Amethyst Initiative at http://www.amethystinitiative.org

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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