Categorized | Viewpoints

Evaluating Wooster security’s mission

My perspective on Wooster security has generally been positive up until a couple months ago. I’m a second semester senior in Greek life, so I’ve watched a lot of often frustrating changes unfold, but I always respected security’s role. Even if I do miss the freedom I felt my freshman year to do things like have a drink at a party instead of hiding in a room, I get that the college was trying to address an issue. Whether or not I enjoy or agree with all of the new policies, the College was working towards bettering our safety.

But unfortunately this semester I found one area where I don’t believe our campus has our safety or well being on their minds.

About two months ago, my friend was fast asleep in her own bed after a low-key Saturday night when security woke her up around 2:30 a.m. to almost devastate her future. Apparently this vague marijuana scent, created from a single small piece of paraphernalia on her desk she used three to four hours prior, created such a dire situation that they needed hunt down its source, call the police and give this 21-year-old a criminal record.

Years ago her psychiatrist and parents agreed that marijuana was beneficial for her anxiety and mental health. She smoked very regularly throughout college, and I believe it helped her be the successful student that she is. This “pot head” was president of a club for three years, held many leadership positions in a variety of other clubs, worked many jobs and internships and is about to graduate with honors.

But I guess it was wrong for her to assume that on a liberal college campus she could get away with quietly tending to her health to help her become the student she wanted to be.

In my opinion she has always been very careful with weed, and she never faced any issues throughout the six years she has smoked until that night. Wooster security’s mission statement talks about preventing crime, but it also talks about providing an ethical work environment.

For forgetting to put her bowl away that night, she almost had a mark on her record that even if she got it expunged, it could still prevent her from working in childcare, health/medical services, the government, from renting an apartment or from adopting a child. Is it ethical to hunt down students who aren’t causing themselves or others any harm or disturbance and force them into that punishment? (Luckily she qualified for a new diversion program, only facing seven weeks of court dates, drug assessments and meetings and draining her grad school savings by $700. But not everyone is as lucky.)

Her case was far from a freak incident. Her lawyer says he gets dozens of calls every month from Wooster students in my same position. All of the professionals she has interacted with between her lawyer, the drug assessment employees and her diversion coordinator agree that it’s unfortunate that our college security hunts down harmless students smoking marijuana who pose no threat to the community. They told her they have hundreds of meth-heads and heroin addicts to tend to, and then nearly an equal amount of successful harmless college students with bright futures brought in by security for marijuana.

Her lawyer even explained that Wooster security could get some sort of certification that would enable them to confiscate marijuana and paraphernalia without turning it into the police, but they don’t want to deal with the liability.

I hope that at some point in the future, students can trust their liberal college campus to think more critically through their blind law-enforcing inclinations and more deeply consider what would be best for our community.

Shoshanna Rice, Photo Editor for the Voice, can be reached for comment at SRice17@wooster.edu.

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