JUST TWENTY-ONE

The portion of the Massachusetts liquor control legislation which strikes the hardest at Harvard and other Universities in the Commonwealth is that limiting the consumption of intoxicating beverages to those over twenty-one. Paradoxically, it is this portion of the law which has the least effect on those consuming liquor in restaurants and other public dispensaries. There is, in practice, only a very slight pretence at enforcement of this clause elsewhere than in places so rigidly controlled as the House Dining Halls. In any Boston restaurant or tavern, a boy of sixteen who is gifted with a mature face and bearing, may purchase enough liquor to interfere materially with the proper functioning of his limbs. An ordinary boy of eighteen can get his shot of the McCoy anywhere. In Harvard Dining Halls, unfortunately, the man who an hour before was drinking himself insensate in the Square is denied a glass of beer with his meals because he lacks six weeks of being twenty-one.

Connecticut, a state noted for its puritanical public morality control, has found it feasible to serve liquor to anyone over eighteen. It seems reasonable to suppose that a similar clause might be made a part of the Massachusetts law; while the sensible thing to do is to remove any arbitrary age limit, and serve liquor to those who look capable of holding what they have ordered, enforcing rigidly the law against serving to those already drunk, the sensible thing is not always possible in matters involving legislation. Whether the law-givers decide to remove all limits, or only to lower the limit to eighteen, is somewhat beside the point. In any case, steps to effect some change of the kind should be taken soon; a recommendation from affiliates of Harvard with political influence might be the impetus needed to start the machinery.