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Friday, April 19, 2024 — Houston, TX

Drug education, transparency necessary

12/1/15 5:05pm

On a campus where both alcohol and drugs are a reality, we emphasize safe consumption of the former while all but ignoring the latter. From the allegedly drug-linked disappearance of a Rice student during spring break two years ago to the expulsion of Wiess’s president last spring on allegations of providing drugs, it is clear that this campus needs more discussion from both administration and the student body surrounding student drug usage.

Every Rice student is inundated with information about alcohol use and its disciplinary consequences beginning in Orientation Week, but discussions of drug use are practically nonexistent. Silence about drugs, however, does not prevent them from affecting students. Although it is true that introducing new students to the punishments of dealing LSD on the second day of O-Week is inappropriate, it is necessary to dedicate time and resources toward preparing students to deal with the reality of drugs on campus, especially as some new students may be entering with prior experience using drugs. 

RUPD, UCourt and chief justices instruct new students during O-Week about the Rice amnesty policy with regards to alcohol to make them comfortable with calling EMS. If new students are unaware that drug overdoses also fall under amnesty in certain cases, they are unlikely to call for help or attempt to remedy their addiction through help from the Wellbeing Office for fear of administrative consequences. Abuse of hard drugs is a serious concern and affects the health of the overall campus, but students cannot get help if they do not know the resources available to them.

Furthermore, the investigation and adjudication process for those involved with drugs remains poorly communicated. Regardless of whether students are guilty, the speed with which these cases are adjudicated is concerning, as the accused may not have the time they deserve to fully develop a defense. The fact that the accused can neither record the interview nor access Student Judicial Programs’ recordings has been a recurring concern.

The alcohol policy, as a document created with student input and based on community values, clearly outlines the policies and punishments surrounding the consumption of hard alcohol on Rice’s campus. Students lack a comprehensive, oft-cited, analogous document for the usage of drugs, leaving a gray area in students’ minds. This degree of standardization of disciplinary procedures has downsides; for nuanced situations such as sexual violence, dealing with perpetrators on a case-by-case basis is the fairest course of action. But even sexual violence is easily outlined into different classes of violations: sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, sexual assault, etc. Drug use, however, lacks documented stratification; the vast majority of students, for example, would have no idea whether dealing marijuana merits the same degree of a violation as just consuming LSD. 

The Rice community deserves an open and honest dialogue regarding student drug use. Transparency and clarity are just the first steps.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece’s author.

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