Marijuana use on campus has been described as “rampant” by West Chester University’s Judicial Affairs, raising the question of how drugs affect the student body and in turn, how enforcement policies affect students. While alcohol is considered to be the most prevalent substance among students, illegal drugs also play a role in the infractions that occur among on and off-campus residents. Campus is considered to be a school zone, causing the consequences for drug possession and drug use to be especially severe. Student drug infractions occurring off-campus also hold consequences with the University’s code of conduct. For example, as of October 29, the West Chester Borough Police have reported seven off-campus student drug infractions, as well as two WCU students who have had to go through drug rehabilitation this semester.
The most frequent drug infractions that occur on campus are paraphernalia charges, with small amounts of possession taking place as well. Director of Judicial Affairs Lynn Klingensmith said that Public Safety and Judicial Affairs are “overwhelmed with alcohol violations,” causing illegal drug infractions to take a backseat to alcohol, as far as numbers and statistics are concerned. Intent to deliver violations occur about four to five times a year, when a student is found with significant amounts of an illegal substance and the means and plans to distribute it.
On-campus enforcement of drug policy is a difficult issue because it is hard for enforcement officers to discover where most students use illegal substances. Marijuana use on campus, with its odor and other noticeable characteristics, has curtailed with the ban of cigarette smoking in residence halls and the introduction of smoke alarm laws in the 1980s. This also resulted in students resorting to other methods to use marijuana, rather that simply smoking in their rooms.
Most often, students caught using marijuana are noticed by other students, or by word-of-mouth information about drug sales. WCU enforcement policies are strict, however, the student code of conduct includes: “Demonstrating that a student has knowledge of the location of any illegal or controlled substance, drug or drug paraphernalia, and/or the intent to exercise control over such items shall constitute possession.”
Many students found in possession of illegal drugs are sent to “drug court,” a system especially designed for users or dealers of drugs. Drug court is a desirable alternative to the standard procedure of the law, offering drug education courses and rehabilitation alternatives rather than the normal sentence for drug-related infractions. Klingensmith said, “When you’re 19 years old and coming to terms with the fact that you might have a problem, what to do isn’t an easy decision to make.”
Programs have been enacted to reduce drug use among students such as E-Toke, a personal online survey, and the Partners in Prevention Program for WCU faculty. E-Toke, similar to the more popularly known E-Chug for alcohol usage, is an online program that any student can take that asks questions about the frequency of drug use, supplying the student with information on the affects of usage.
Partners in Prevention is a drug-related program geared towards educating faculty about how to notice students who may possibly be falling behind in class, whether it is through grades or attendance, and how to approach those students.
On and off-campus drug use is taken very seriously with West Chester Judicial Affairs and Public Safety, as well as the West Chester Borough Police Department, who send reports to the university once a week. “Our job is not to make consequences with the university punitive; they already have that from the law. Our job is to educate students about good decision making,” Klingensmith said. The use of drugs and alcohol, and the consequences and enforcement involved, are important issues for students and fac