Debate silent on drinking

The Amethyst Initiative, a national petition launched in June, offered the Northwestern administration a chance to take part in a crucial national debate on the treatment of underage drinking-an offer that was quickly sidestepped.

According to statements by Vice President for Student Affairs William Banis , the university is waiting for “a lot of emotion” and “polarization” on campus to pass before reconsidering its stance on drinking (“University remains mum in national drinking age debate,” Sept. 23). The issue is indeed sensitive following the tragic alcohol-related death of an NU freshman in June.

Yet strong emotions should serve to open, not close, a much-needed debate on the underlying attitudes regarding binge drinking. Signing onto the petition would not be a cure-all, but a first step in making necessary adjustments to NU alcohol policy.

Blame for ineffective policies lies with both students and the administrition. Students should seek help from community assistants or emergency services if they fear a friend has drunk lethal amounts. At the same time, the administration should make it clear that the students will not face harsh legal repercussions for getting necessary help.

To avoid a possible public relations disaster, the university understandably doesn’t want to take a stance on lowering the drinking age. But this should not prevent them from signing a petition that only recognizes that current national standards are not working.

The university stands to benefit from the following open dialogue. Removing NU from any discussion of the underage drinking policy will do nothing to solve the problem of binge drinking.