Editorial: USF shouldn’t disregard Amethyst Intiative’s goal

It seems that these days, the big word on campus is alcohol.

On Tuesday, the University announced that it would no longer allow students or faculty to drink at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s before 6 p.m., citing a 1993 policy as the reason.

The policy states that no student or employee is allowed to report to class or work under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Students and employees can be suspended, fired or expelled for a violation.

And, as students become vexed over this decision, the University has chosen to shy away from discussing another alcohol-related topic.

The legal drinking age has been a long-debated subject. In July, university chancellors and presidents across the U.S. formed the Amethyst Initiative — a public statement that encourages elected officials to open up the drinking age for debate.

But President Judy Genshaft’s signature won’t be on that list any time soon.

University spokesman Michael Hoad said Genshaft will not likely sign the Amethyst Initiative regardless of how much support it gains.

The basis of the petition’s argument is that lowering the drinking age would help prevent underage binge drinking. But Hoad said there isn’t sufficient evidence to back it up.

Aside from the lack of research, he said that regulating the behavior of students would be difficult since most live off campus.

However, the fact that USF is still mostly a commuter school should not be the basis of an argument for its lack of involvement.

The importance of the Amethyst Initiative is not whether students can drink on or off campus. Rather, the initiative is important because it sparks serious national dialogue about whether adults over the age of 18 — who are old enough to vote, go to war, buy a house and get in debt — should be able to buy a drink.

USF’s refusal to include its name on the list seems to be nothing more than a misplaced attempt to protect its image.

Perhaps as USF tries to boost its ranking and national regard, it sees organizations rallying against it as a threat — especially organizations against drinking, as they are usually composed of parents who don’t want their kids attending a college that fosters alcohol consumption.

USF, though, should look beyond petty concerns and consider the benefits that its signature may bring to its student community as well as those it may bring to students nationwide.

The signature of a large, diverse and upcoming university may be just what the Amethyst Initiative needs to realize a laudable objective: opening a discussion about new policies that may address a social ill — youth binge drinking — and help young adults take control of their lives.