Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Ogden Wright Contributor
Drinking was last on the list of things that I expected to receive culture shock from. I was given my rude awakening when, a few days after arriving in the United States, I was denied — much to my irritation — a round of celebratory beers with my father at the hotel bar while trying to celebrate my going off to K.
It’s safe to say that this issue is one that has affected other international students who are coming from countries where the legal drinking ages are around 18. We come from cultures where we are not ostracized for indulging in drinking at this age, but are in fact encouraged to do it responsibly and within our limits.
What blows my mind is the set of rights that are accorded to young adults in America at the age of 18. They are entrusted with the right to vote and the right to bear arms, and they are free to join the military. These are, in any culture, significant decisions to be made in a person’s life and to some degree are even greater decisions than drinking.
So why withhold one’s ability to drink at this age? If concerned about 18 year olds’ senses of responsibility, why accord them with rights that have far-reaching impacts on not just them, but on the lives of millions?
Some might argue by saying that international students are expected to conform to the laws and customs of their new host country, and it’s a fair point to make. Consider, however, that international students become subject to the same pressure as young American students and cave into illegal, irresponsible drinking at informal college events or parties.
To me, restricting alcohol for young adults is like leaving a jar of candy on the counter and telling a child not to have any. The minute the adult leaves, kids are guaranteed to consume the entire jar. It is the same as the binge drinking that occurs at parties and the popular college culture of getting wasted.
Given the weight of responsibility accorded to 18 year olds in the U.S., I believe it would be a fair and safe policy to allow them to drink. Feigning ignorance and turning a blind eye to the negative consequences that alcohol restrictions places young adults at risk and really irritates international students.