By Ellie Gavin || Assistant Campus Life Editor
This past Tuesday, F&M Peer Health Educators hosted a drug forum during the Uncommon Hour. Members of the F&M community were invited to come out and receive information about drug and alcohol use on campus, specifically marijuana use, and were encouraged to speak their minds about the culture of drug use at F&M and it’s affects on health, academics, and campus life in general.
Margaret Hazlett, dean of the College, director of Public Safety William McHale, assistant vice president for facilities management and campus planning Mike Wetzel, and assistant dean of the college and dean of Ware college house Amy Moreno were all in attendance and offered information from their perspectives as faculty members who deal with the effects of drugs and alcohol at F&M. Each one gave their own short presentation, and then opened the floor up to students to ask questions and make comments.
First, McHale offered insight into the potential legal risks that students face when they engage in the use of illegal drugs or underage drinking. He mentions that in the State of Pennsylvania, marijuana is actually listed as a “schedule 1” drug. Schedule I drugs are rated for the highest potential for abuse, and hold the highest potential punishments. The possession of high volumes of any schedule one drug, including marijuana, is potentially up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. This can be increased if the crime involves distribution in a school zone or to minors.
Next, Hazlett discussed the college policy on drug and alcohol use. She noted that probation and suspension remain permanently on an individual’s record, even though they can petition to have their probation removed off their transcript. She also notes that the school’s amnesty policy only refers to alcohol use, not drug use, although she stresses that safety is the most important thing and that students should not hesitate to get help for their friends if needed.
Following Hazlett, Mike Wetzel spoke about the effects of drugs on college property. Wetzel says that lately there has been an increase in bad behavior in the dorms and destruction of college property.
Wetzel lists some of the offenses: broken doors, windows and lights, stolen or destroyed room temperature devices, holes in the walls and ceilings, spray painted carpets and walls, trash cans thrown down stairwells, urine-filled bottles left on sinks, window sills and even college house kitchen counters, vomit and blood on the bathroom walls, floors, doors, partitions, mirrors, and counters, and clogged and broken toilets to name a few.
“This is just not normal behavior,” Wetzel said.
Wetzel also notes that he has seen a definite increase in these types of incidents on Thursday through saturday nights when people typically go out and are more likely to be using drugs and alcohol.
McHale notes how disrespectful this kind of behavior is, especially in light of the fact that the cleanup falls on the custodial staff. “The people who clean this are the lowest paid people at the college,” McHale said.
Then the floor was opened for students to voice their opinions. Reactions from students were mixed. One anonymous student suggested that maybe the root cause of the increased bad behavior in the dorms could be attributed to the college’s recent “crack down” on the fraternity parties that students might otherwise be at (mentioning the restrictions on Phi Kappa Tau from allowing any freshman at their parties, and the First Night Out initiative which restricted freshman from going to fraternity and sorority events where alcohol is served in their first few weeks at college).
Another anonymous student suggested that the College might improve its relationship with the students by communicating better about policies such as “First Night Out” instead of leaving students to get their information from Yik Yak or other less-than-reliable sources.
Although not all of the student responses were positive, overall the forum was successful in its ability to bridge the gap of communication between the students and the administration, which is an important first step in cultivating a safe and healthy campus culture.
Ellie Gavin is the Assistant Campus Life Editor. Her email email@example.com.