Yale University is often featured at College Insurrection for its “Majoring in Fun” atmosphere.

That being said, Yale Junior Geng Ngarmboonanant makes a very reasoned case for lowering the legal age for drinking:

The merits of lowering the drinking age are relatively clear. We know that college students drink. But the current law drives college students “underground” to consume alcohol, like when students take shots in quick succession in dorm rooms. The current drinking age also edges students toward other illegal activities, such as purchasing fake IDs in order to enter bars and clubs.

…An 18-year-old drinking age — or 19-year-old, in order to avoid legal drinking by high school seniors — would complete the circuit in our “safety first” alcohol strategy. If we do choose to go ahead and announce our support for change, it would not be hard. Our school will not be alone.

In fact, we would be joining a group of 136 colleges, including Dartmouth and Duke, who are signatories of the Amethyst Initiative. Amethyst — which means “not intoxicated” in Greek — is a coalition of college presidents who urge a reconsideration of the national drinking age. They may not be able to battle Mothers Against Drunk Driving singlehandedly, but it is certainly a beginning.

While there are limitations to what a university can do, we have seen that Yale’s half-a-million lobbying budget can change things. In 2007, Richard Jacob, the University lobbyist, led the opposition against proposed academic research restrictions on international students, which had been discussed in the Bush administration as a potential response to the 9/11 attacks. Jacob, along with a coalition of universities, orchestrated a campaign against the proposal, which included phone calls, mail, policy statements and meetings. In the end, the proposal never became law.

To say that we are ineffective — that our words don’t matter, especially when joined by hundreds of peer schools — is a vast understatement.

The time is perfect for change. This fall, the University Council Committee on Alcohol, which is made up of five university officials and five alcohol experts, will recommend major reforms to our school’s alcohol policies and programs. Among these recommendations should be public University support for a lower drinking age. Otherwise, the inherent contradiction in our alcohol strategy will never be fully resolved.

In the end, the drinking age is not simply an issue of our right to choose. It is a matter of policy inconsistency. In this country, a 19-year-old can choose to risk her life on a battlefield but cannot take a sip of beer. At this school, the law prohibits us from fully enforcing alcohol safety, no matter how effective our program.