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McCardell coming to talk about lowering the drinking age

Choose responsibility, an initiative to lower the drinking age to 18, has 135 college and university presidents and chancellors joining together to let the country know that the current drinking age of 21 is not working. John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College and founder and president of Choose Responsibility, will speak in Castleton State College’s Casella Theater at 7 p.m. on April 26 about why the drinking age should be lowered to 18.

But McCardell’s journey to enlighten the citizens of the United States will not be an easy one. Many people do not agree with lowering the drinking age – and some even think it should be raised.

Ted Shipley, a Castleton State professor and coach of the Castleton baseball team, has dealt with various alcohol issues with his team in the past. Shipley said he believes his coaching staff has instilled in the team that they can handle any problem that comes their way.

“I do not agree with lowering the drinking age. I would actually like it to be raised to 22 to keep alcohol out of colleges. If the drinking age was lowered to 18, I would be in favor of the driving age being raised,” Shipley said.

Students Against Drunk Driving program statistics show that about 10.8 million people aged 12-20 reported drinking alcohol in the past month. Nearly 7.2 million were binge drinkers and 2.3 million were heavy drinkers.

But will lowering the drinking age make this worse?

“If the drinking age is lowered it will be extremely dangerous at first, but over time it will settle down and hopefully kids will respect alcohol and know their limits, said sophomore Katelyn Seager, eager to give her perspective.

Although a majority of those interviewed oppose lowering the drinking age, McCardell feels that after people hear him speak, many may change their minds.

“Lowering the drinking age to 18 will bring their alcohol consumption out from hiding to where parents and adults can monitor it and teach responsibility without conflict. Young adults between the ages of 18-20 could earn a license to buy and use alcohol by completing an alcohol education program,” McCardell said in an interview with U.S. News & World Report.

But Castleton resident Claudia Courcelle, who has been living in Castleton over 25 years, hates the idea of 18 year-olds drinking, and thinks it will make things worse.

“Students are out of control at Castleton State, no matter if it is on or off campus. They are loud and disrespectful. Kids are damaging property, oblivious to neighbors and are trashing the place like a dump. If the drinking age was lowered it would be unmanageable and intolerable, she said.