I grew up in New York state when the drinking age was 18, an age when most high school seniors had their "first" drink. Most of us went to the Fireside Inn and ordered a Tom Collins for this birthday celebration. That was about it. Our high school was a social place, but I do not remember any dances, parties, dates, etc. that involved alcohol and I don't remember anyone ever getting drunk.
Somehow we managed to have fun without booze. After graduation, I went to a Big Ten school, where the legal drinking age was 21 and the town and campus were dry. Only one establishment (grandfathered before dry laws existed) was allowed to sell alcohol, and the owner was careful about who was served at his "chocolate shop." Yes, there were parties where alcohol was sneaked in, but there were no open bars in fraternities and sororities.
And here's the big difference between today's imbibers and those of yesteryear: Getting drunk was not acceptable behavior; it was embarrassing and proof that you weren't mature enough to handle alcohol.
Today there seems to be no embarrassing factors associated with being drunk. Maybe Penn State and its surrounding townships should consider going dry. It just might improve social and academic standards.
Susan Novak Hochreiter State College