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New initiative to lower legal drinking age

READ MORE: New initiative to lower legal drinking age
College students are moving in, and college partying will not be far behind. Now, a group of educators is proposing a surprising way to deal with campus binge drinking -- lower the drinking age. The following information was reported by ABC's Carla Wohl: On college campuses across the country, students will soon be pounding back beers. Adam Gingrich, college sophomore, said, "I just want to have a good time with my friends. Everyone gets drunk and parties hard." No one disputes that binge drinking among underage students is a huge problem. But now college presidents from 100 of some of the nation's best known universities say the 21-year-old federal age limit for drinking may be making it worse by pushing the behavior into the shadows. They want a national debate about lowering the drinking age to 18. David Oxtoby, President of Pomona College said, "I think if we were able to show responsible drinking and model responsible drinking and educate students about it, that would be very beneficial for everybody." The very suggestion has MADD, mothers against drunk driving, seeing red. They say a lower drinking age would lead to more alcohol-fueled accidents. April Snook of MADD said, "The presidents who signed onto this are not looking at the scientific studies that have been done. Scientific studies have shown that the under- 21 laws save lives." MADD is urging parents to reconsider the safety of schools whose presidents want to revaluate the 21-year-old drinking age. The debate is likely to get louder in the coming weeks as students head back to campus. Student Maurice Santos said, "I think at 18 you're still too immature. Even 21 is still kind of pushing it." Studies show more than 40 percent of college students report symptoms of alcohol abuse, a problem, one educator said, that won't be eliminated by lowering the drinking age. -- End Carla Wohl, ABC news, Los Angeles -- UNCW has yet to respond to an invitation from the Amethyst Initiative, but that has not stopped people from forming an opinion on the issue. WWAY visited the campus today. Everyone we spoke with had an opinion about the proposal to lower the drinking age. Even with classes starting tomorrow, almost everyone wanted to talk about the effort. Today students and parents were busy buying books and last minutes supplies, a quiet scene compared to the nightlife of partying many assume occurs on college campuses. But, while students were 'quick' to respond to a proposal to lower the legal drinking age, signed by 100 college presidents, UNCW Chancellor Rosemary Depaolo will get some advice before making a decision on the initiative. Rebecca Caldwell, Dir. Of Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention, said, "I'm going to make some recommendations to her about the pros and cons of signing on with this kind of effort. And we'll continue our substance abuse prevention and education efforts like always, which we've had in place for over 20 years." Caldwell says the current drinking age helps prevent addiction and allows the brain to fully develop. However, she says lowering the drinking age could lead to less high risk drinking among teens. North Carolina Executive Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Craig Lloyd says raising the legal age to 21 reduced traffic deaths by nearly 30 percent in some states. He says if we lower the drinking age, the opposite will be true, and deaths will increase significantly. Duke is currently the only North Carolina school to support the proposal.

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