The "Amethyst Initiative" is an effort by a group of college presidents and chancellors to get the drinking age lowered back to 18. The argument is that the current age limit "is not working." It contributes, they say, to off-campus binge drinking; fake IDs erode respect for the law. They point out that 18-year-olds "are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military"; the notion that they're not mature enough to handle alcohol is inconsistent.
Their website explains the name:
The word Amethyst is derived from the Ancient Greek words meaning “not” (a-) and “intoxicated” (methustos). According to mythology, Amethyst was a young girl who incurred the wrath of the God Dionysus after he became intoxicated with red wine. Amethyst cried to Goddess Diana for help. Diana immediately turned the girl into a white stone. Upon discovering what had happened Dionysus wept, and, as his tears fell into his goblet, the wine spilled over the white rock, turning it purple.
The lesson for today's college students is clear: if you run afoul of a mean drunk, asking a Goddess for help isn't likely to work out: you get stoned, then stained. You might want to carry pepper spray or a 9mm Glock instead.
Our local paper, Fosters Daily Democrat, covers the Amethyst Initiative here, and notes that while the presidents of Dartmouth and Southern New Hampshire University have signed on, UNH's president, Mark Huddleston, has so far declined.
When looking for informed comment on college drunkenness, however, my first thought is: what does Dartblog say? (Hmmm, I may not have meant that quite the way it came out…) In any case, Jennifer Bandy is skeptical.
Good point. It's in the job description, after all.
One comment on the Amethyst website. There's a big fat button on the right of the front page:
… but (as I type) hitting that button gets you right to a 404: "The page you were looking for doesn't exist." Theory: this is either (a) a subtle comment on the typical University administrator's respect for dissent, or (b) their web designer is a drunken 18-year-old.