Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

Recently, Student Government Association President L. Anthony DiJiacomo, III signed the Get Real declaration, joining a list that includes 15 other colleges from all across the country.Get Real is an initiative which was developed by Choose Responsibility, a non-profit organization that seeks to “engage students in a conversation about alcohol issues,” Michael Giuliani, Executive Director of Choose Responsibility, said in a released statement.

“Ultimately, I signed the Get Real initiative because the discussion is much needed,” DiJiacomo said.

“I believe that the current law is not working and needs to be revisited, which under proper review would likely lead to the minimum legal drinking age being lowered.”

According to Choose Responsibility, over 1,800 college students die due to alcohol-related causes.

This figure includes incidents like traffic accidents and alcohol poisoning, among other things. Almost 600,000 students are injured each year as a result of alcohol abuse, while 100,000 are sexually assaulted.

In addition to all of this, a study also found that 20 percent of male college freshmen admit to having 10 or more drinks in an evening. This is more than double the definition of “binge drinking.”

“Many people like to look at social issues from an idealistic viewpoint, forgetting the reality of our culture, society, and general human nature.

“The Get Real statement concludes that Legal Age 21 ‘pushes it (underage alcohol use) out of public places and into secretive, underground settings where injury, sexual assault, and alcohol poisoning are most likely to occur,'” DiJiacomo said.

Get Real has set up a three-pronged effort to get the word out on the failures of the current drinking age system. They have focused on students, college administrators and elected officials.

On the student level, the plan stresses responsibility and good decision making.

DiJiacomo stressed the importance of each student recognizing not only the impact that their decisions have on themselves, but on the surrounding community as well.

“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, individuals need to remember the possible consequences binge drinking can have on their lives – impacting their academics, criminal record, and health,” DiJiacomo said.

The initiative encourages administrators to create alcohol prevention and education programs.

“West Chester University and student organizations need to provide more dependable programming as alternatives to drinking. There needs to be regular, alcohol-alternative programs in the student union late every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night so that students have a viable alternative,” DiJiacomo said.

“In addition, I would like to see the South Campus Apartments and The Village become a wet area of campus. I believe that this will allow responsible students, who would like to be able to drink in their apartments, to live on South Campus, thus reducing our footprint on the Borough.

“I believe that this will alleviate many of the Town-Gown issues and allow our reputation to wholly focus on the excellence of our University,” DiJiacomo added.

As for elected officials, they are asked to acknowledge both the consequences of the current drinking age as well as to consider more effective alternatives to the current system.

The Get Real plan developed out of a movement that took place over a year ago by 135 university presidents who sought to bring the debate over underage drinking to the rest of the country’s attention.

Get Real was created as a way to incorporate the students themselves into the movement.

The Get Real plan and Choose Responsibility work in support of the National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, which is observed each year during the third full week in October.

This year it will run from Oct. 18-24 with the intentions of helping to foster a conversation between administrators and students.

Colin McGlinchey is a fifth-year student majoring in English with a minor in Journalism. He can be reached at CM646588@wcupa.edu.

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