A visitor’s views: International students’ take on alcohol guidelines

By Rachel Gouk

The international community at Rider has different views on the alcohol policy, with opinions from all over the world — some spoken more fervently than others.

People can have consensual sex at the age of 16 in the state of New Jersey, and purchase firearms at 18 and cigarettes at 19. That means people are given the responsibility to start a family at 16, purchase a gun at 18 and buy cancer sticks at 19, yet the drinking age is 21.

Concerning the drinking age, alcohol policy and the problems facing Rider, students from Dominica to France to Vietnam had strong opinions.

“I think 19 is a good age because we’re in college,” said a sophomore from Dominica two weeks ago regarding the issue of lowering the drinking age. “You’re teaching us responsibility, but you don’t give us any. You can have a family at 16 but not drink a light beer. 21 is just obnoxiously ridiculous.”

Richie Dang, a sophomore from Vietnam, doesn’t see the point in the AlcoholEDU tests. The test can be taken at 18 even though you can’t drink for another three years. He said he believes that students will forget everything from the test by the time they turn 21.

However, not everyone shares the same views. Yanli Zhang, 21, supports the drinking age for 21-year-olds.

“I think it’s a good age, 21,” said Zhang. “But people don’t care; they still drink underage.”

Some exchange students have strong views on the alcohol policy and the changes it forces on their lifestyles.

“I’m not used to drinking in a room,” said an exchange student, 22, from Austria. “That’s just increasing alcoholism. I think it’s kind of ridiculous that even if you’re 21, you have to hide behind blinds and closed doors. Back home, you can drink beer and wine at the age of 16 and hard liquor at 18.”

Thibaut Fiatte, an exchange student from France, believes that the restrictions against alcohol make it more appealing for minors to break the law. Fiatte said exposing minors to alcohol at an earlier age will help them understand what the consequences of drinking are.

“It’s a system that’s totally hypocritical,” Fiatte said. “Everyone is playing that game of not wanting to get caught drinking. What could make it worse is if Public Safety was inside the building checking every room, every night, because then everyone would binge drink in 10 minutes instead of 30 minutes.”

Tyler Van Fossen, a sophomore and an American student who lives in the international community, feels that the AlcoholEDU program could be more effective. According to him, the program should teach students how to drink responsibly and have self-control, issues it doesn’t address.

The views from many members of the international community are clear and simple: the alcohol policy is ridiculous, the drinking age should be lowered and college-goers should be given more responsibility.

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