BVU President sees education as healthier option, local campus adds freshman program and drinking alternatives
Presidents from about 100 well-known American universities have already signed on for a plan to study lowering the legal drinking age from 21 to 18.
You won't find Fred Moore's name on that list.
Known as the Amethyst Initiative, proponents hope that urging lawmakers to approve a lowered drinking age will help control binge drinking.
Moore, president of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, says he can see both sides of the argument.
"From a public health perspective, you can make the argument that if you legalize it, students will be less likely to be on the roads traveling to somewhere they can get alcohol, and so are likely to be safer," Moore said.
"With that said, it is certainly true that on almost every campus in America, drinking is a serious matter. You can make an effective argument that additional permissiveness in the eyes of the law could encourage more drinking."
Moore has not signed the document. University of Iowa President Sally Mason said she won't endorse lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18. She says she is concerned that because 19- and 20-year-olds can legally enter Iowa City bars, many underage patrons are drinking alcohol and getting drunk.
Moore feels that alcohol education is the initiative that is truly needed.
"In fact, we are ramping up our efforts at BVU, and I just signed off on a memo today in that regard," Moore said.
"We are going to do even more."
New this fall is implementation of AlcoholEDU, a growing national program in response to concerns over alcoholism on campuses. The online-based alcohol education program will be provided to every incoming first-year student at BVU.
"We are looking for measureable outcomes - fewer alcohol-related incidents involving students, and other positive effects," Moore said. "I salute our Student Services staff for getting this started."
Other efforts include establishing The Underground, a student gathering space created in the basement of Smith Hall, Midnight Basketball and Volleyball leagues, Alternative Happy Hour events, and a concerted effort to schedue on-campus entertainment programming for students on Wednesdays, typically a heavy-drinking night, Moore said. All these ideas are intended in part to provide healthier alternatives to getting drunk.
"As I explained to parents during the student orientation, our policy on campus mirrors the state law, and the state law is that drinking under age 21 is illegal," the BVU President said.
Students violating the law may be subject to university sanctions as well as law enforcement penalties. Moore said it would be unlikely for students violating only drinking law to be dismissed from the university, however - unless they demonstrate other improper behaviors such as violence while intoxicated.
"You have to do both and we will do both - enforcement and education," Moore said.
While Moore isn't joining the list of university presidents calling for legalized drnking at 18, he said that he will be watching the issue.
"This is going to be a very interesting debate to watch develop," he said. "But we are leaning toward education here, because we think it is the right thing to do."