By Garrett Fitzgerald Staff Writer Negative aspects of College culture in America- namely general apathy and college drinking culture- reflect irresponsibility in my generation. With a collective responsibility towards personal financial success regarded above nearly all else and adulthood defined at the moment of working full time or at the time one can take a sip of beer at a restaurant, the negative aspects of college culture are not surprising. America has a maturity problem. The other day, my professor, meaning no harm or disrespect but rather just speaking naturally, addressed our class as ‘kids’. A class full of 21 year olds are often considered kids although sitting in that class, we were all miles from home, independent in decision making, and physically and socially mature. The ‘adult’ in the room still sees us as ‘kids’. America’s maturity problem is in defining the starting line for adulthood. Being ‘grown up’ in our society should not be defined as the moment a full time job is attained. Nor should it be defined by the age one can first drink legally. These requirements for adulthood are arbitrary, resulting in young adults whose ideas, opinions and social standing are are diluted. Legally speaking, our government defines adulthood, or the ‘age of majority’, to be 18 years of age. This holds in legal matters such as voting, consent and criminal responsibility. Adulthood is an undefined term in nature. It would be foolish to try and take any age and mark it as the threshold for the change in personal responsibilities and expectations in the transition from dependence to maturity. Our culture lacks a rite of passage from childhood that is shared by all. Not all people attend college. Those who enter a trade or the service after high school still won’t be able to grab a beer with coworkers for a couple years. These two vague rites of passage in our society- turning 21 and starting a 40 hour work week- are ethically dubious. They are the two major defining marks of American adulthood regardless of background, goals, or experience. Social maturity is directly associated with the mark of 21 years, relating adulthood and consuming substances. The drinking age of 21 causes more harm than good and associates drinking underage with immaturity. It is not surprising that American college drinking culture is irresponsible. The definition of adulthood at 21 causes the binge of lunacy which parents and law enforcement only make worse with harsh punishments rather than honest education. If 21 year old students are still seen as kids because they don’t work for a salary, this adds to the dilution of equality in opinion. Campus activism is hugely diminished form the sizable movements of the 60’s although there may be more now to protest. Ages 18-29 have the lowest voter turnout for youth is the smallest of any age demographic. It is apparent that there is a large amount of apathy in college aged Americans. Perhaps it is because being treated as children results in less civic responsibility. The reputation of apathy and binge drinking in college is a systematic result of our culture’s definition of maturity. In a quickly evolving time the voice of the youth needs to be more highly valued. Change in perception of maturity needs to start in this country. Adulthood should not be defined by alcohol consumption and full time work. A good place to start from a societal standpoint would be to change the drinking age to 19. Furthermore, the mistakes leading to the system of college culture in place cannot be used as an excuse for immaturity in college, and blaming generations past cannot correct anything. In the end, it is like a chinese finger trap- the more college culture problems are blamed on outside sources, the more excuse for apathy and irresponsibility. Sadly, more laws are being put in place to keep adulthood at bay until 21 to the disappointment of liquor stores and seekers of relevant campus protest.