Background Image

News & Events


Clarkson University-sponsored Debate and Discussion About Legal Drinking Age to Air on Local Cable TV

On March 11, Clarkson University students in an Amethyst Initiative debate argued whether or not the legal minimum age for consuming alcohol should be lowered from the current age of 21. The debate was moderated by Courtney Johnson-Woods, a communication & media instructor at Clarkson.

The program also included a panel discussion of the topic by a variety of stakeholders including students, university administrators, bar owners and law enforcement officials.

The debate and discussion will be broadcast on WCKN channel 30 Time Warner Cable on Monday, April 6, at 7 p.m. The program will re-air on Tuesday, April 7, at 7 p.m.

Panelists were Patrick Brady (superintendent, Potsdam Central School District), Mark Murray (officer with the Potsdam Police Department), Chelsey Nena-Maree O’Brien (Clarkson exchange student from Australia), Jody Wenzel (owner, McDuff’s Tavern), Thomas Finnerty (Assistant District Attorney), and Chip Morris (director, SUNY Potsdam Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards). Kurt Stimeling, Clarkson dean of students, moderated the discussion.

The Amethyst Initiative supports informed and unimpeded debate on the 21-year-old drinking age. Amethyst Initiative presidents and chancellors call upon elected officials to weigh all the consequences of current alcohol policies and to invite new ideas on how best to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use.

Launched in July 2008, the initiative is made up of chancellors and presidents of universities and colleges across the United States. These higher education leaders have signed their names to a public statement that the problem of irresponsible drinking by young people continues despite the minimum legal drinking age of 21, and there is a culture of dangerous binge drinking on many campuses.

The debate and panel discussion were sponsored by SPECTRUM in partnership with Clarkson’s Dean of Students office. Additional support was provided by the Center for Excellence in Communication, and WCKN Television, Clarkson’s student-run television station.

The student-led debate was part of Communication 392, a Clarkson class that introduced the students to the structure and exercise of formal policy and values debate, while expanding their skills in communication, presentation, research and analysis.

The History 391 class, Special Topics: Documenting Social Activism, identified two student groups who are creating a DVD record of the debate and other campus efforts. These will become a permanent record of the semester-long efforts to bring a about fully developed discussion and understanding of the Amethyst Initiative.

Complete video of the March 11 Amethyst Initiative Debate and Town Meeting is also available online at .

Read more about the Amethyst Initiative at

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

Calendar View the full calendar >>

Full Calendar RSS Feed