Since last week’s forum regarding the state of student life and the policies of the college, there has been an increasingly divisive atmosphere of mistrust towards our administration. This forum followed two significant trends this semester: the increase in reported campus drug abuse, and the increase of violence and harassment from citizens of the surrounding community, most notably several sex offenders who have found their way on campus.
These two problems show a massive gap between what the priorities of security are and what they ought to be. First of all, I must clarify that there is certainly a role for Security and Protective Services (SPS) in preventing students from abusing substances to the point of endangering themselves or others. The partial destruction of a wall outside of Westminster by an intoxicated student driving proves this. Nor can I claim that the increase in drug incidents is solely a product of increased enforcement, rather than changes in student activity. However, I find in my experience that the majority of times SPS cites students for drug and alcohol usage, they are not “protecting” them.
Banning drinking games and large containers of alcohol is a plainly stupid way of cutting down on alcohol abuse, as well as Residence Life’s asinine “Safe, Sober, Smart” program. College students will always get drunk, and they will always get high. Telling us that the only way to avoid problems with these substances is to abstain from them entirely recalls the failed policies of abstinence-only sex education that plague our high schools.
The program also shows how misinformed these departments are on the topic of substance abuse. I’m referring to the display on the art wall showing recent drug-related deaths of several college students. These included people who died largely from the abuse of prescription drugs and alcohol (both of which can be extremely dangerous), but four of these included the note “he was also found to have marijuana in his system.” The implication of causality here is reckless and ignorant fear mongering. Marijuana does not kill people. Period. It is not a health threat except for the long-term ingestion of tar and maybe eating too many Cheetos. The fact that these departments prioritize enforcing this failed and unnecessary law over keeping sex offenders off campus shows that they are not protecting us in the way they ought to be.
Similarly, the Wired Scot has a bulletin board display attempting to dispel myths about the Judicial Board. Sure, it’s good to know that the system is based around the idea of “essential fairness,” but when you’re sent to a level two hearing just for being in the same room as a former student (true story), these words mean absolutely nothing. Just as the administration does with its “Global Citizenship” crap, we are being sold meaningless catchphrases about what our college experience ought to be by the offices that more often than not let us down.
This culture of misplaced paranoia comes through in our daily lives. I live in Stevenson, where there is an adjacent picnic table that friends and I sometimes go to enjoy a cigarette. I am sick of seeing the exact same security guard strolling by and accusing us of doing something illegal when we are doing absolutely nothing that is against the policies of the college. I am sick of seeing security escort former students off of this campus to go to jail, when they are not the criminals who are beating and harassing us, but rather our friends. I am sick of seeing them emptying hallways where every student is over 21, but Reslife has decided the decision of having a wet or dry lounge is not one that we can be entrusted with.
So, to Reslife and SPS, I say this: please realize that an increasing number of students on this campus do not think you are protecting us. If you want to protect us, how about you quit your ignorant approach to marijuana and drinking and investigate the prejudice, harassment, and violence that we are sick of?
Dan Hanson is a Viewpoints editor for the Voice and can be reached for comment at DHanson12@wooster.edu