Amethyst Initiative forum to discuss lower drinking age

To address concerns about underage and binge drinking, Public Safety Aides are holding a forum next week to discuss the proposed change in drinking age headed by the Amethyst Initiative.

The Amethyst Initiative is an organization made up of college administrators from across the country who believe the current drinking age fails to prevent alcohol abuse among underage students.

According to the organization's Web site, the Amethyst Initiative was founded in 2008 by John McCardell, president emeritus of Middlebury College and founder of Choose Responsibility, along with several other college administrators who wanted to reopen the discussion of the drinking age.

They have invited various chancellors and college presidents from across the country to join the discussion and sign a petition that does not state any particular policy but recognizes a problem with the current age restriction.

Some of the 135 college administrators who have signed the petition include President Thomas Schwarz of SUNY College at Purchase, Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Syracuse University and President Thomas Meier of Elmira College.

The forum next week is being organized by juniors Danielle Relyea and Jaclyn Chafetz, co-captains of Public Safety Aides, along with help from Joe VanRemmen, advisor and liaison between the University Police and PSA.

"At this time," said VanRemmen, "our panelists consist of myself, a college student, a member of the Geneseo Town Council, a college physician and the executive director of the Livingston County Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse."

VanRemmen hopes that the forum "brings a topic of safety on college campuses to the forefront for discussion by members of the community." Additionally he said he hopes the discussion makes students aware of patrols and work done by PSA on weekends in Geneseo.

Both Relyea and Chafetz expect a decent student turnout at the event. "This is a very relevant topic to all students, whether they drink or not, so we hope that this will be a well-attended event," said Relyea.

There will also be an open discussion following insights from the panel. The event will take place on Monday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. in Newton 201.