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Pamphlet criticizes campus drug policy

Unsigned document calls for policy changes

Waverly Hart
News Editor

Students may have noticed a four-page pamphlet scattered around various places on campus last week. The pamphlet was titled “College of Wooster Drug Policy: What You Should Know” and markedly criticized the College’s procedure for searching students’ rooms, saying their policy contributes to the racial caste system that exists in America.

The pamphlet was distributed widely throughout all three libraries, Morgan Hall, Scovel Hall and Kauke Hall last week by an unknown individual. The pamphlet begins with a condemnation of America’s system of mass incarceration and goes on to say that the criminalization of psychoactive substances leads to racial oppression and injustice. It cites the disproportionate numbers of blacks and Hispanics sent to jail for drug offenses. Farther down on the second page, in bold lettering, the pamphlet questions the College’s reasons behind upholding this U.S. national policy.

“It is painfully obvious that the War on Drugs is practically a war on people of color. Given this fact, how could any institution justify active participation in upholding this system?” the drug policy pamphlet said.

The second half of the pamphlet discusses The College of Wooster’s policy specifically, and an anonymous Wooster student gives their take on the drug policy on campus.

“At any time, security can swipe into your room and search it without probable cause. When I say search, I mean they will turn it upside down. If they smell marijuana from your room … they will search your room,” said the anonymous student.

The pamphlet also mentions that if a student is caught with marijuana, campus security will immediately call the police, involving the state and potentially charging the student with a violation that will go on their permanent record.

This statement is confirmed in The Scot’s Key, which states that “the College has the right to conduct searches of College-owned or College-controlled properties,” including resident dorm rooms, desks, lockers, email files and several other properties. Additionally, The Scot’s Key states that, “When appropriate, during room inspections or searches, the College reserves the right to confiscate items found to be in violation of established policies and regulations.”

The last paragraph in the pamphlet moves away from Wooster’s policy, and instead directly urges President Sarah Bolton to change the College’s drug policy.

“Will [Bolton] recognize the undeniable link between the War on Drugs, white supremacy and punitive drug enforcement policies? Will she put a stop to the aggressive crackdown of cannabis smokers on campus? Is she brave enough to use her power to fight back against systemic injustice?” the pamphlet asks.

When asked to comment on the handout, Bolton said the pamphlet raised an important question.

“We need and value all of those perspectives in making policy. I would encourage the publisher of the pamphlets to talk directly with student affairs staff as a next step,” Bolton stated.

While the pamphlet has raised valid criticisms and started a discussion among students on Wooster’s campus, it is a clear violation of campus guidelines involving distribution of media. Under its section of “Publicity, Posting and Advertising,” the Scot’s Key states that, “All advertising material must clearly identify the sponsoring organization or individual on all materials.”

“I don’t condemn any method of voicing concerns so long as the method of voicing them doesn’t put anyone’s physical safety or access to their educational opportunity at risk. However, our policies are in place to support each individual’s rights, and their responsibilities to our Wooster community, so media posted in violation of the policies will be removed, and there could be additional responses as well depending on the particulars of the violation,” Bolton said.

At this time, it is unknown what the consequences are for the individual who printed and distributed the pamphlet, or if the administration is doing anything to address concerns voiced by the handout.

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