Wednesday, April 05, 2006

End Unofficial and Make It 21

The Champaign City Council should end Unofficial and consider raising the bar entry age to 21.

As a group, people under 21 are proven less able to handle alcohol than those 21 and over. Does this mean 21 is a magic age? No. Do some folks of legal age abuse alcohol and act like idiots? Yes.

However, the state's line has been drawn at 21. Some arbitrary line must exist unless we go to an extreme of allowing everyone or no one. Neither approach seems logical.

Unofficial should end because it promotes binge drinking.

From News-Gazette:

Champaign police spokeswoman Joan Walls said a preliminary analysis showed officers Friday issued 103 notices to appear in court. Most of those were for minors ages 18, 19 or 20 years old in possession of alcohol or for having open alcohol, she said.

Persons cited were from 25 different colleges and universities, but the majority were from the UI, Walls said.

UI police Assistant Chief Jeff Christensen said campus police had about 50 contacts with people Friday and early Saturday, mostly for behaviors associated with alcohol. Officers arrested more than a dozen people for various offenses, ranging from drunken driving and trespassing to battery, he said.

"One guy was just walking down the street throwing haymakers at women," Christensen said. "He was transported to a hospital for severe intoxication."

The bar entry age should change because it promotes a culture that defies state law. It does so against the better interests of the students violating that law.


"Considering the current statistics regarding teen alcohol abuse, I cannot emphasize enough the need to prevent teen drinking. Even one drinking episode could be fatal. Automobile crashes related to underage drinking are the leading cause of death for teens. Approximately 36% of traffic deaths of 15- to 20-year-olds are alcohol-related. Although the death toll seems to be on a decline, alarming statistics like these confirm that underage drinking isn't a problem of the past," points out former Professional Insurance Agents of New York State Inc president Lynne Frank.

From: US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

According to the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, almost seven million people ages 12 to 20 binge drink at least once a month. Another survey found that about one third of high school seniors reported at least one occasion of binge drinking in the past two weeks.

Consuming drink after drink or shot after shot is often considered normal, rather than harmful, behavior among teens. Binge drinking is not harmless fun, however. Teens who frequently binge are much more likely than non-bingers to do something they later regret, get behind in schoolwork, become injured, damage property, and get in trouble with the police. They also put themselves at a higher risk for alcohol poisoning because, by consuming many drinks in a row, they do not feel the negative effects of the alcohol until it is too late.


Anonymous reed said...

"As a group, people under 21 are proven less able to handle alcohol than those 21 and over."

None of the articles you cite support this initial claim.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Don said...

The articles I cite show clear evidence that teens make poor decisions when it comes to alcohol. Do you disagree?

Drinking alcohol under 21 is illegal. Do you disagree?

Having a 19 entry age allows students and other residents of Champaign a place to easily access alcohol. Do you disagree?

Making it 21 would make it harder for students and other underage residents of Champaign to access alcohol? Do you disagree?

Given all of this, it seems logical to Make It 21.

5:12 PM  
Anonymous reed said...

"The articles I cite show clear evidence that teens make poor decisions when it comes to alcohol. Do you disagree? "

Nope. I'd also argue that 21 year olds make poor decisions when it comes to alcohol.

"Drinking alcohol under 21 is illegal. Do you disagree?"

Of course not.

"Having a 19 entry age allows students and other residents of Champaign a place to easily access alcohol. Do you disagree?"

Define "easily."

"Making it 21 would make it harder for students and other underage residents of Champaign to access alcohol? Do you disagree?"

I do.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Don said...

It's pretty clear that you are blind to the facts about the bar scene. You dodge questions (define "easily"? about: not difficult) and refuse to acknowledge that taking away a main supplier of booze from underage drinkers would decrease the amount of underage drinking. (Despite the intellect that gained your admittance to the U of I, this shows a lack of common sense or a stubborn resistance to logic.)

You have a clear position and are willing to stick to it no matter what. You've bought into the bar owner argument that bars are a safe place to break the law. So be it.

As for me, it seems clear that the only way to fix Unofficial's bingefest is to end it. As for the underage drinking, the biggest step the city could take to curb it would be to raise the bar age.

8:43 AM  
Anonymous reed said...

Rather than be forced to argue your assumptions, you want everyone else to agree with your armchair analysis.

Why am I nitpicking on "easily?" I'm trying to draw you into a relative measure. I want you to say "easier than ____." Thing is, I don't think you can say getting a drink at a bar is all that easier than getting a 6 pack by some other means for a 20 year old.

You still haven't defended any of your claims, instead preferring to skip that part and anoint yourself the winner. That's not a very credible method of argumentation.

What's fantastic is you have minimal say in establishing liquor policy as a constituent. That makes me feel a lot better.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Don said...

I never annointed myself winner. I only stated that you haven't successfully changed my opinion and recognized that I haven't changed yours. Clearly, neither will happen, and that's fine by me. I have found fault with your logic and you with mine. Seeing eye-to-eye here will not take place.

I am not shocked that you are comforted by the lack of voice constituents have. Intentional or not, it indicates a sense of arrogance on your part.

I have always been intrigued by the type of U of I student who comes to town, feels the need to try to shape policy or criticize the local community, and then leaves. (These policies are about more than just the U of I community. They effect taxpayers and parents of the children who grow up alongside the antics of the Drinking Illini. )

I have been intrigued, too, by the U of I student who feels a sense of superiority over residents who were here years before he arrived and will be here long after.

As a U of I student years ago, the arrogance of my fellow Illini irritated me. I notcied it more among folks from the Chicago area than anywhere else. (I originally come from that area, so I feel safe in making that judgment.)

As a resident of Champaign, that irritation increases when I hear or read items like what you have posted here.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous reed said...

Surely constituents have significant voice collectively. Individually, less so. Please cite the example when one vote change the outcome of an election. This isn't about arrogance, it's about numbers. I'd say the same about any U of I student. Fact is, a person can't change the outcome of an election. Only people can do that.

Sometimes I wonder if you internalize what I say. A question could go far. It's certainly more productive than inventing arguments I do not make. You're of course free to debate with a ficticious argument, but please, don't attribute it to me.

I've been here for seven years now. I realize that it's less than some, but I feel I have a decent read on community interests.

Students might also feel rightfully ignored when elected officials neglect them in shaping policy while falsely pandering to them during an election year. Students are a large, yet transitory group. For most, they have no recourse at the ballot box to punish the neglectful politician. They can be freely infringed upon by a politician who need not worry about student resentment. So yeah, I take my job seriously, because others fail to do so with theirs.

As for the "agree to disagree" stance, I think that situation is far different than the one we have here - where one side refuses to substantiate claims.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Don said...

I will make assumptions about you based on your words. That is the nature of communication. If you don't like the conclusions people reach, be careful how you phrase things. You took comfort in a consituent's lack of power in an area where you shape policy. That reeks of arrogance. Perhaps you are not arrogant. If that's the case, you might work harder at achieving clarity.

At any rate, yes, I think one vote matters, and I think someone in a position of power (on any level) who discounts the power of a single vote shows arrogance, whether he intends to or not. Perhaps that's just armchair analysis, but I'll claim it as my own.

You asked for examples of the power of a single vote; here are several. Some fall outside the range of a single consituent voting for only herself, but some are just that. Taken as a whole, they show the power of "one" that you say can only exist for a group.


• In 1889, by one vote, Washington was admitted to statehood within the union.
• In 1890, by one vote, Idaho became a state.
• In 1941, the Selective Service Act (the draft) was saved by a one vote margin--just weeks before Pearl Harbor was attacked.
• In 1948, a Texas convention voted for Lyndon B. Johnson over ex-Governor Coke Stevens in a contested Senatorial election.
• Lyndon Johnson became U.S. Senator by a one vote margin.
• In 1955, a city election in Huron, Ohio the Mayor was elected to office by one vote.
• In 1962, the Governors of Maine, Rhode Island and North Dakota were all elected by a margin of one vote per precinct.
• In 1984, a Monroe County, Florida Commissioner was elected by one vote.
• In 1994, the U.S. House of Representatives enacted a law banning specific classes of assault weapons. The vote was initially tied but one member changed his vote to approve the ban.
• In 1995, when the balanced budget amendment bill came before the US Senate in March, the measure failed by one vote.

As for your other points, you seem to indicate that some folks don't take their jobs seriously. Can you cite specific examples of people who take their job less seriously than you?

You appear to have suggested that I don't substantiate my claims, but I haven't seen you present a shred of hard evidence that your position holds water. Where is the empirical evidence that suggests you are correct? Do you have studies that show 21-year-olds and 19-year-olds are no different when it comes to drinking? Do you have studies that prove bars are consistenly safer than other sources of illegal consumption?

1:28 PM  
Anonymous reed said...

I can't verify what you've said, or gather particulars because the links were cut off.

I will say though that many of these weren't elections. An Act is passed by Congress, a much smaller body of individuals. Single votes matter there. But those aren't elections.

The only examples that seem to fit are the Lyndon Johnson election and the Ohio mayor. "One vote per precinct" isn't one vote. The rest are acts or legislative votes.

I'll exclude the statehood ones, because I'm not sure which vote was singular, but I'll bet it was the Congressional one. Again, not a general election.

But your point doesn't stand for much, does it? 2 examples in the last 60 years? Was I wrong to insinuate the impact of a single person's vote was minimal?

I was wrong to insinuate it will never matter. Clearly, that's not the case. But it also is very unlikely to matter.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous reed said...

As for stats,

I can probably find data which shows more rapes happen outside of bars than inside of them. I can also show stats that prove sexual assault is a big problem on college campuses. Would that be enough?

Binge drinking and rape are often linked Link

I find this concern compelling enough, as well as skepticism about any magic that happens to one's maturity 21 years after they were born that did not exist the day before.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Don said...

I wouldn't assert that one vote frequently makes a difference. However, the potential always exists to some degree. We seem to agree here. You asked for an example, and I obliged on several levels. Some fit the debate moreso than others.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Don said...

As for the connection between alcohol and rape, I couldn't agree with you more. This is a huge concern. I agree, too, that college campuses are ripe for this connection's prevalence.

I won't argue that more rapes happen outside of bars than within them. However, I would like to see stats that show if the problem is more present here at U of I than at campuses where bars are 21 and up. I'd like to see, too, how many rape cases involving alcohol have links to a bar. (i.e. went to bar....drank...left...rape occured while still intoxicated.)

I wonder if the LAC would pursue this information. Would you be willing to ask the LAC to commission a study comparing drinking issues at U of I to those at similar campuses without the 19 entry age? The results might be useful for shaping policy. Who knows...maybe they'd prove me wrong.

11:21 AM  

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