In response to the Dec. 18 article "Quandary for colleges: how to battle binge drinking": I moved to the US in 1992 and spent a number of years here in graduate and law school.
One of the striking experiences I have had in the US is observing otherwise intelligent individuals drinking excessively.
Even in law school, the future judges and prosecutors were drinking excessively. While I would be sipping on a drink, my fellow students would be drinking one drink after another.
I was born and raised in Lebanon and spent my undergraduate years there. I also visited a few European cities. Excessive drinking, while it exists everywhere, is more prevalent in the US. I think the root of that problem is the ridiculously high drinking age.
Since drinking is not allowed until age 21, those who engage in underage drinking consume alcohol excessively whenever they get their hands on alcohol.
When so many people are violating the law, the law needs to be changed. There is no logic to having the drinking age be 21. The US should follow the French model and legalize drinking at 16.
As a college professor who has taught courses on addiction, I want to emphasize the importance of teaching moderate drinking. We need to end the drinking age laws and abandon our attempts at prohibition. It didn't work historically and it especially won't work for young people who are discovering new freedoms and experimenting with new behaviors.
In the past, faculty and students partied together; today there is no mature supervision because of the law. Therefore, the drinking is underground. This encourages extreme behavior.
Teaching moderate drinking in the home and elsewhere is the only answer.
Katherine van Wormer
Social Work Department,
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Granted I'm a college student, and therefore I already have a bias against the article. It makes alcohol out to be devil juice that causes chaos. I don't think the system needs to change; I think people need to change. And one part of development in college is for students to learn how to get things done in the real world with temptations. One big temptation in real life is booze, and big brother isn't going to be around after college.
Regarding John Hughes's Jan. 12 column, "Cure for US-Arab tensions: more student visas": Let's face it. We're being attacked by people from Islamic countries, and most of the potential terrorists are the same age as college students. Therefore, it's entirely reasonable to do a thorough background check with both written and oral interviews prior to such persons being admitted into the country on a student visa.
However, our best defense, in the long run, is to be evenhanded in our relations with all countries in the Middle East. We must compel Israel to withdraw from most of its settlements in the West Bank and Gaza as well as insist that the Palestinians accept the right of Israel to exist as a majority Jewish state within its internationally recognized 1967 borders. Also, we must insist that Palestinian terror attacks stop so that negotiations regarding other remaining issues can occur.
Unless and until these things happen, we can wish all we want for improved relations with the Arab world but we will not get very far in that wish.
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