Last updated on: 1/26/2016 | Author:

S. Georgia Nugent, PhD Biography

Interim President of Wooster College
Pro to the question "Should the Drinking Age Be Lowered from 21 to a Younger Age?"

“As a former college president, I have joined with many of my colleagues to advocate lowering the minimum drinking age from 21 to 18, because we believe the 21-year-old limit has created, rather than solved, problems. America’s earlier experiment with prohibition was a notorious failure. Yet in 1984, America again enacted prohibition on a more limited scale, becoming one of only a handful of nations in the world with a minimum drinking age of 21. I believe that our 30 years of experience with prohibition for young people has been a serious failure as well.

There are a number of arguments against the 21-year minimum age. Foremost, in my mind, is the dramatic rise in binge drinking among young people since the 1984 change — with its consequent danger to health and safety. When it is legal for an 18-year-old to drive, marry or serve in the military but illegal for him or her to drink a beer, the illogic of the situation is patent. As a result, the overwhelming response of young people has been, not compliance, but contempt for the law. By outlawing moderate use of alcohol in appropriate social contexts and with adult oversight, we have driven more drinking underground, where it has taken the very dangerous form of ‘pre-gaming.’ The ‘under-age’ drinker, no longer permitted the occasional beer during a dance party, is now more likely to chug high-octane alcohol in dangerous quantities before heading off to that party. As a result, alcohol use has become more, not less, dangerous.”

“Raising the Drinking Age to 21 Has Been a Disastrous 30-Year Experiment,”, Feb. 10, 2015

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Interim President, College of Wooster, May 2014-2016
  • Senior Fellow, Council of Independent Colleges, 2012-present
  • Chair, Board of DirectorsCouncil of Independent Colleges
  • President, Kenyon College, 2003-2014
  • Former Dean, Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Center for Teaching and Learning, Princeton University, 2001-2003
  • Associate Provost, Princeton University, 1995-2001
  • Assistant to the President, Princeton University, 1992-1995
  • Associate Professor, Brown University, 1985-1992
  • Assistant Professor, Princeton University, 1979-1985
  • Former Instructor, Swarthmore College
  • PhD, Classics, Cornell University, 1979
  • BA, degree unknown, cum laude, Princeton University, 1973
  • Graduated with Princeton University’s first co-educational class.
  • First female graduate of Princeton University to hold a full-time faculty appointment at Princeton.
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should the Drinking Age Be Lowered from 21 to a Younger Age?