By: Max Creager ~Staff Writer~
It took me quite a bit of energy to write what is already self-evidently true to you and anyone who has even had the impulse to think on this subject. Alcohol exists in societies as a reasonable tool with many benefits, and regrettably, the cause of many disasters. Put simply by author and polemicist Christopher Hitchens, “It is a good servant and a bad master.” As you already know, in the case of the United States, legal adults cannot determine for themselves whether to use alcohol or not until three years after they have already been considered legal adults in every respect.
This policy contains within it an immense hypocrisy, which is constantly protected by mutual knowledge of violation between authorities and legal adults and a pretend ignorance of any violation on both sides. This catch-22 has done nothing but create a fiction, as many two-faced policies do, which inevitably fogs the relationships between families and children, police and citizen, institution and student. The preservation of this lie is predicated on the fear of punishment or blame and has left people between 18 and 21 to continue doing what is ethically blameless and in turn enter into an equivocating silence of false consensus.
When I turned 18, among a long digressive list of other things, I was deemed legally eligible for the draft, able to vote and serve on a jury, exist in the eyes of a court as an “adult” and enter into legally binding contracts. I would ask you to re-read and think about that list of responsibilities and the amount of ability they presuppose. Especially in the context of legal statutes, adults not being deemed responsible or mature enough to decide the amount of a liquid they can consume is hypocritical. Consider further the case of medical decisions. When a citizen turns 18, he or she can make life or death medical decisions, which indicates the full cognitive capacity necessary to be informed about and make personal decisions about one’s body.
In more explicit terms, one who is 18 – 20 is fully capable of deciding about every aspect of his or her health and well-being, including the freedom to use tobacco and maintain whatever diet one deems appropriate. I think given this, as well as the aforementioned legal responsibilities, the hypocrisy embedded in the drinking age limit is self-evident.
However, there is a fantastic piece of casuistry that is still often argued, that “the brain doesn’t develop fully until age 25.” Consider this in light of the fact that the same government has sent tens of thousands of soldiers under the age of 21 to combat zones around the world to fight the current “war on terror.” The government has decided that these soldiers, while their brains are not yet fully formed, have the capacity to handle the psychological conditions.We trust individuals with the protection of our nation that we do not legally trust with liquids.
Such a policy would be laughable if it was not costing students thousands of dollars a year across universities, as well as forcing them into unsafe and unmonitored drinking environments. When I inquired about the alcohol policy to Residence Life last year, I was told that they have to enforce the law or else they would lose federal funding.
If actions do speak louder than words, then Xavier University and its subsidiary institutions are saying to students that it’s fine to give into hypocritical and unjust laws and in turn accept the lies and deceits of students, so long as you can get paid for it. Unless we break the taboo of deafening silence around this issue and make those in charge respond directly for their policies, the status quo will be maintained. Students will drink and deceive, and authorities will punish and profit off the collective silence.
Finally, if this is the status under which education is given, perhaps it would be prudent to question its sincerity and validity. I certainly don’t hope future doctors, nurses and businessmen don’t emulate such unethical and hypocritical standards when they enter the work force.