Get Real: Responsibility, Education, and Leadership

Alcohol abuse on college campuses is an urgent public health crisis.

  • Each year, over 1,800 college students die as a result of alcohol-related causes, such as traffic accidents, injuries, falls, and acute alcohol poisoning.
  • College students experienced a nearly 10% increase in the rate of drinking to get drunk between 1993 and 2001, which corresponded to an increase in secondary consequences and treatment for alcohol overdose.
  • In a study of college freshmen, 20% of males frequently drank more than 10 drinks in an evening—double the scientific definition of binge drinking.
  • Nearly 600,000 students are injured each year as a result of alcohol use, and nearly 100,000 are sexually assaulted. At a major university, treatment for alcohol overdose increased by 84% in three years, and the average BAC of those admitted rose from .23% to .25%

Legal Age 21 has made college campuses more dangerous in the past 25 years. It has not eliminated alcohol use by those under the age of 21; instead it has pushed it out of public places and into secretive, underground settings where injury, sexual assault, and alcohol poisoning are most likely to occur.

As student leaders, we are frustrated by the culture of toxic drinking among our peers and want to take action to change it.

We call on our fellow students….

  • To make responsible decisions about alcohol.
  • To make sure friends who have consumed too much receive medical attention.
  • To never mix alcohol use and driving.

We call on our campus administrators…

  • To create an on-campus environment that ensures the safety of all students.
  • To provide alcohol education and prevention programs that acknowledge the reality of alcohol use and give students the tools they need to make responsible decisions about alcohol and prevent alcohol-related emergencies.
  • To engage in dialogue about the legal drinking age and its impact on campus life.

We call on our elected officials...

  • To recognize the intended and unintended consequences of Legal Age 21.
  • To acknowledge that 18-20 year-olds are adults in all respects but one—they may vote, serve in the armed forces, marry, adopt children, and sign contracts, but are not able to choose whether or not they would like to drink.
  • To consider alternatives to Legal Age 21 that will create a safer environment on college campuses, and better prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use.

 Click here to download a PDF version of the statement

Chris Given, Bard College
Alex Blankenship, Beacon College
Matthew Stucky, Bethel College
Ryan Stiers, Capital University
Justin Garritt, Castleton College
Peter Friedrichs, Connecticut College
Nicholas Light, Cornell College
Lee Tankle, Dickinson College
Maggie Stewart, Eastern University
Justin Peterson, Elon University
Bryan Dietz, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Jeffrey Seiser, Fairfield University
Robert Jakubik, Florida State University
Zachary Ennis, Gallaudet University
Devraj Dasgupta, George Mason University
Calen Angert, Georgetown University
Derek Holm and Matthew Olson, Gustavus Adolphus College
Brian Painter, Hillsdale College
Candace Avalos, James Madison University
Marc Perkins, Johns Hopkins University
Benjamin Chaucer, Johnson State College
Ashley Juavinett, Lafayette College
Mario Baldassari, Lake Forest College
Chris Bowen, Marymount University
Chase Sokolow, New College of Florida
Jack Test, Oklahoma Panhandle State University
Chris Van Drimmelen, Oregon State University
Lance Poston, Presbyterian College
Connor Diemand-Yauman, Princeton University
Joshua Laguerre, Rhode Island College
Aaron Fitzgerald, Rhodes College
Allison Wallrapp, Rollins College
Caitlin Basile, Saint Francis University
Colby Melvin, Spring Hill College
Elsabe Dixon, St. John's College - Annapolis
Ali Rabe, The College of Idaho
Heath Scott, Texas Wesleyan University
Jonathan Davis, Troy University at Troy
Christopher Nagata, University of Arizona
Jarrod Woolf, University of Chicago
Paul Dixon, Sewanee: University of the South
Terral Ainooson, University of Massachusetts - Boston
Matthew Fennell, University of Montana at Missoula
Bob Wolfley, University of Southern Indiana
Scott Asbach, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
Brandon Carroll, Virginia Tech
Eric Hoffman, Washington and Lee University
Sydney Evans, Winthrop University
L. Anthony DiJiacomo III, West Chester University
Kevin Smiley, Western Kentucky University
Jason Zuccari, West Virginia University
Brody Leven, Westminster College

To sign:

  1. Review and print statement
  2. Sign, indicating your name, title, and institution
  3. Return by mail to:

    Choose Responsibility
    10 E Street, SE
    Washington, DC 20003

    Or by fax to: 202-543-8764

    Currently, membership in Get REAL is limited to student government presidents.  If you are not a college or university student president, but would like to become part of this larger effort, please sign-up here.

 

Get REAL is exclusively for student government presidents.  By signing, student leaders are calling on elected officials to respect their adult rights and to consider alternatives to the 21 year-old drinking age that will make their campuses and communities safer places to live, work, and study.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I join Get REAL?

By signing the statement, what am I committing to do?

Why is Get REAL targeted at student body presidents?

Beyond signing the statement, what else can I do to encourage this conversation?

I am not a student government president, but I would like to get involved – how can I help?

 

How can I join Get REAL?

To sign the Get REAL statement, click on the “Statement” tab above. There you will see the text of the statement as well as a link to download a PDF copy. Review and print the statement, then sign where indicated, also listing your name, title, and institution. Return the signed statement either by mail to 10 E St. SE, Washington, DC 20003, or by fax to 202-543-8764. Note: the Presidential Statement is intended to be signed only by student body presidents.

By signing the statement, what am I committing to do?

When you sign on to Get REAL, you are pledging to engage your fellow students, campus administrators, and public officials in a frank conversation about all of the intended and unintended consequences of Legal Age 21. Additionally, as student body leaders, Get REAL signatories commit themselves to helping students at their schools have a meaningful impact on the direction of campus alcohol policies, and, most importantly, to making responsible decisions about alcohol use.   

Why is Get REAL targeted at student body presidents?

Student body presidents play a unique part in student life. Many of them have seen the deadly consequences of toxic alcohol use firsthand – some of them may even be under the age of 21. They understand what it means to live in a culture whose messages about alcohol often intend to inspire fear, and have the effect of being confusing and contradictory. As student government officials, they represent large groups of people who are affected directly by changes in campus alcohol policies. Students deserve to have a voice in any meaningful discussions about alcohol on college campuses, and student body presidents possess the leadership skills and real-world experience necessary to bring this conversation to all levels of campus governance.

Beyond signing the statement, what else can I do to encourage this conversation?

There are a number of different ways that student body presidents can help lead this movement beyond adding their names to the Get REAL statement. You can help promote awareness of reality-based alcohol education initiatives, from the Red Watch Band and the work of the Gordie Foundation to targeted programs such as AlcoholEDU. You may also find it useful to discuss specific policy changes that could make your campus safer, such as safe ride programs or Good Samaritan policies, with campus administrators and student life professionals. To help sustain the discussion in your area, work with other student groups on campus (Greek organizations, athletic teams, etc.) to host conversations about the culture of alcohol at your school. Consider writing an op-ed to your campus and local newspapers about Get REAL and your desire to rethink Legal Age 21. After signing, you can assist us in promoting Get REAL and engaging other student governments in this conversation by spreading the word through your student government’s social networking sites or sending us a brief statement outlining your reasons for signing on, which we will post on the Get REAL section of the Choose Responsibility website.



I am not a student government president, but I would like to get involved – how can I help?

If you would like to get involved in the larger movement to consider alternatives to Legal Age 21 both on and off college campuses, consider signing up as a volunteer with Choose Responsibility. You can visit our Volunteer Center to learn more about other ways to lend your support to our growing movement, or join us on Facebook and Twitter.  If you are interested in bringing a representative from Choose Responsibility to your campus or community event to speak about the drinking age, please contact us for more information.
 

Get REAL Signatories in their own words

"I'm tired of the toxic drinking environment sometimes seen on college campuses throughout the country.  I think it’s pretty unrealistic to say that the current laws are solving all drinking problems.  I signed on with Get REAL to promote campus safety and intellectual discourse, knowing that college campuses are the perfect venue." -Brody Leven, Westminster College

"I signed on to to Get REAL because my role is to represent the students, and I feel this type of open debate is what the students want. I think that alcohol and how to promote smart behavior and a safe environment should always be discussed.” - Justin Peterson, Elon University

"I signed the Get REAL initiative because a discussion of our nation's toxic drinking culture is much needed.  There is nothing inherently wrong with alcohol, but the over-abuse of alcohol is wrong, especially when it wakes up families during the night and trash is left on the streets. West Chester is a gorgeous, family-friendly town. We need to do our part to help keep it so. Furthermore, students need to remember the possible consequences binge drinking can have on their lives--impacting their academics, criminal record, and health.” - Anthony DiJiacomo, West Chester University (PA)

"I signed on to Get REAL because the campaign makes sense. When the drinking age was 18, there was less binge drinking occurring at college. Drinking should be a social event. If students are accustomed to alcohol at a young age, then they will understand the consequences of binge drinking; lowering the drinking age to 18 allows professors and students to engage on an entirely new level. If students attend a campus event or speaking engagement, having a glass of wine should not be discouraged. It should be something that is normal.

I was a Resident Advisor during my sophomore year and it just gets frustrating telling someone no. As students, we understand that we rebel when we are told ‘no.’ What if it was frowned upon by society to binge drink? What if you were a part of the "out crowd" if you drank heavily?

Lastly, the fact that a solider can die for our country, but cannot have a beer is just ridiculous.

At Virginia Tech in particular, I have learned that when students drink, they drink heavily. This behavior is not safe for our community, and I want to help students create a safer drinking culture. I firmly believe that lowering the drinking age will lead to a safer Virginia Tech." -Brandon Carroll, Virginia Tech

Get REAL in the News

Bowling Green Daily News
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Elon Pendulum
University Business
Westminster Forum
The Quad