Monday, August 25, 2008

Update from Choose Responsibility

I blogged about this group last June. I think their points are really interesting - and am excited to see the effort gaining ground.

Hello [CR] supporters, new and old,

As this amazing week draws to a close, we are glad to have a chance to check in, and to welcome over 700 new subscribers and volunteers to our ranks. This week has been a formative one for the drinking age debate and we hope to continue this positive momentum into the coming months.

In July, John McCardell began working with several college and university presidents on a statement calling for an informed and unimpeded debate on the 21 year-old drinking age. The statement became known as the Amethyst Initiative, so called because the purple stone was considered a symbol of moderation in ancient Greece. Over the next several weeks 104 college and university presidents signed onto the Initiative. Efforts were underway to expand the list when the Associated Press caught wind of our efforts.

Late Monday afternoon the Associated Press released a story about the Initiative. The resulting media firestorm was nothing short of astounding, and unlike anything we could have anticipated when we wrote to you on Monday evening to announce the Amethyst Initiative. The story was covered by all network and cable news channels, national and local radio, and in thousands of print stories and editorials. We have done our best to keep a running tally of some of the best coverage, which you can read here.

Here are some other highlights from the week:
• 24 additional presidents and chancellors added their names to the Amethyst Initiative
• Over 70,000 people visited the Amethyst Initiative website
• Over 8,000 people visited the Choose Responsibility website
• 1,200 email messages and a lively dialogue in the comments to our blog.

Needless to say, the resources in our small office are stretched thin. (Do you live in Vermont? If so, we are looking for temporary help this week and next in our Middlebury office. Reply to this newsletter if you would like to lend a hand). We need your help to keep the momentum going and to ensure that MADD and others do not succeed in stifling public debate. Two easy things you can do:

1. Write a letter to the editor in response to local coverage. See “Arguments Against 21” and materials in the [CR] Download Center for supportive facts and statistics. If your letter is published, please be sure to send us a copy!

2. Write to the president of your (or your children’s) alma mater, and to local colleges and universities who have not already signed on to the Amethyst Initiative to encourage them to join (see here for a fll list of presidents who have already signed on). Since the news broke on the issue before we had anticipated, many presidents are still actively discussing the issue and might benefit from your encouragement. If you do write, here are some points to emphasize:
• The Amethyst Initiative is a group of college and university presidents and chancellors who support open debate on the 21 year-old drinking age. They do not support a lower drinking age, or any particular policy outcome, but call on the public and our elected officials to consider the intended and unintended consequences of the law.
• The 21 year-old drinking age has contributed to a culture of dangerous, clandestine binge-drinking.
• Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among students.
• Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.

Thank you for your enthusiasm and commitment to this issue. We have made great strides this week and are happy to have you on our team.

Here’s to another busy week,

The [CR] Team
John, Mike and, Grace

Choose Responsibility
PO BOX 507 Middlebury, VT 05753 802.398.2024

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