Classic Signals: Pulitzer winner talks drinking age

By Elise Schoening
Features Editor

Every week, Features Editor Elise Schoening hits the archives and finds old Signals that relate to current College topics and top stories.

Last week, The Signal reported that College alumnus James Queally (’09) was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooting in December 2015. Queally served as a sports editor and arts & entertainment editor for The Signal and wrote a front-page piece in 2008 on the heated discussion of raising the drinking age on college campuses.

It may be time to rethink the drinking age.

At least that’s what more than 100 college presidents are saying by signing a statement sponsored by the Amethyst Initiative, a national alcohol awareness group dedicated to sparking a new debate about the minimum drinking age

College President R. Barbara Gitenstein said she is open to debate on the issue, but as of now has no reason to support changing the legal drinking age from 21 to 18.

“With regard to the discussion currently in the media… I have seen no convincing evidence to support such a change,” Gitenstein said.

Gitenstein added that she will wait for the reports of several other College officials, including the findings of the College’s Alcohol Commission, chaired by Mark Woodford, before commenting on the specific actions of the Initiative.

“We have been having this conversation at (the College) over the last couple of years,” Gitenstein said in an email.

She added, “I think it is absolutely essential that we have intensive discussions about how best to address the abuse of alcohol among young adults, particularly those aged 18 to 20.

Other officials of the College were quick to admit the need for a discussion but, unlike Gitenstein, declined to comment on the issue of 18 versus 21.

“I do support suggesting we need communication and discussion,” Joe Hadge, coordinator of the Alcohol and Drug Education Program (ADEP) at the College, said.

“My concern is that it seems to be presented as an either/or, 18 or 21, and then they take sides,” Hadge said. “As we know through the history of alcohol, it’s just not that simple of a topic,” he said.

Meanwhile, three New Jersey college presidents have signed their names to the Initiative’s declaration since June.

Drew University President Robert Weisbuch led the charge on June 25.

Presidents from Montclair University and Stevens Institute of Technology followed suit in late August.