Drug crackdowns unlikely to happen any time soon — but why?

PC Mel Nunn

Drug crackdowns unlikely to happen any time soon — but why?

One of the major issues in today’s society is the illegal usage of drugs. The rising issue of illegal substance abuse is especially prevalent among teenagers and young adults. Because of this, schools, including universities, are trying to find ways to combat this problem.

In the last 30 years, many workplaces have instituted a policy on mandatory drug testing. There has been lots of research on the efficacy of such measures. The results of these studies are mixed, but there is an overall positive correlation between random drug testing and efficiency in the workplace.

The possibility of drug testing in the workplace has been shown to decrease drug usage in employees that were polled. This decrease in drug usage, combined with the increase in efficiency and safety, is a worthwhile reason to institute drug testing policies in work spaces.

To combat the trend of illegal substance abuse, colleges should also consider this policy of drug testing students. The purpose a university is to increase the success of the students. By instituting such a policy, universities would increase student success by decreasing drug usage.

Leora Hettleman, a junior biology major said that, “based on the logic and rationale presented to support employee testing, I believe the same reasons would remain valid in a university setting. Promoting healthy living, maintaining a productive environment, and attempting to prevent accidents are all reasons which would apply to a university’s student body.”

There are issues with such a policy, however. It may not be cost effective to test every student in a university for drugs. Moreover, the one university that instituted such a drug test for all its students, Linn State Technical College, was forced to remove the policy when a federal judge declared it unconstitutional. This was on the grounds that random drug testing is just a searching without a due warrant.

According to Dr. Jeff Cullen, the director of the student judicial program at UMBC, such a policy would, “probably decrease drug usage at UMBC. I do not think drug testing of the general student population is such a good idea from a public policy perspective, though.”

Therefore, this policy of drug testing all students is unlikely to become a reality in universities. “It is doubtful, particularly in a state trending towards decriminalization of drugs. [The only way it would happen] would be if it were mandated by the Maryland General Assembly,” said Cullen.

In an exception to this rule, NCAA athletes on athletic scholarships are already required to submit to random drug testing. This small portion of students should in fact be expanded, not to entire campuses, but to students who are on academic scholarships, financial aid and other athletes not on scholarships.

These students are singled out by the university for aid. The university is investing in their success, and one way of ensuring the quality of their investment is to randomly drug test these students. Since the student has the option of not taking the scholarship, it cannot be seen as a violation of privacy.

In all the debate over the legalization of marijuana, it is often overlooked that other drugs still remain illegal. While perhaps worthwhile, drug testing all students on a university of students is unrealistic. However, drug testing some students, especially athletes and scholarship students, would improve the success of these students at college.