Women socializing over wineStudents focusing on work in a libraryFriends making a toastFour people toast champagne flutes


It’s time to rethink the drinking age

In 1984 Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which imposed a penalty of 10% of a state's federal highway appropriation on any state setting its drinking age lower than 21.

Twenty-four years later, our experience as college and university presidents convinces us that…

Twenty-one is not working

A culture of dangerous, clandestine “binge-drinking”—often conducted off-campus—has developed.

Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students.

Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.

By choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law.

How many times must we relearn the lessons of prohibition?

We call upon our elected officials:

To support an informed and dispassionate public debate over the effects of the 21 year-old drinking age.

To consider whether the 10% highway fund “incentive” encourages or inhibits that debate.

To invite new ideas about the best ways to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol.

We pledge ourselves and our institutions to playing a vigorous, constructive role as these critical discussions unfold.

 Click here to download PDF of statement.

To sign:

  1. Review and print statement
  2. Sign, indicating your name and institution
  3. Return by mail to:

    Amethyst Initiative
    10 E Street, SE
    Washington, DC 20003

    Or by fax to: 202-543-8764

    Currently, membership in the Amethyst Initiative is limited to college and university presidents and chancellors.  If you are not a president or chancellor, but would like to become part of this larger effort, please sign-up here.