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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Editorial: ensuring a freedom-free campus

    At ten minutes before 11 yesterday morning, we received an email with the subject “”UA Statement on Drug Free Schools and Campuses,”” explaining the university’s drug policies and what they intend to do to people who violate them. It’s put in nice, neutral language and dressed up with thoughtful reminders about “”health risks,”” but the content is basically indistinguishable from that of a threatening letter. We have to wonder what the University of Arizona Police Department would do if we were to forward them the email and explain that it made us feel harassed.

    Receiving such a missive tends to make one feel mildly defensive: what did I do? you wonderÿ- not unreasonably, for such emails seem tailored to be read only by the guilty.

    Such a response is exactly what this email is meant to draw forth, of course. What it actually draws forth from most of us is indifference,ÿassuming we bother to read it before consigning it to the spam folder.

    The value of the email lies in its reminder that the origins of the UA’s strict drug policy lie in the Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988 and the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989. With these acts, the federal government imposed upon every public educational institution in the country the severe and exacting standards of a prying next-door neighbor.

    From here, it was certain that the university, an institution whose purpose is to transform young adults into adults, would begin to invade the personal lives of its students and faculty.

    As campuses go, ours is a fairly politically active one. No sooner have we seen the signs from one UA Mall rally come down than we start seeing posters advertising the next one. Our elected student officials are ever plunging into one cause or another, loudly declaring their solidarity with the common student.

    But it’s striking that we haven’t seen any form of protest over a policy that visibly terrorizes students every week. We mean, of course, the unceasing harassment of innocent students for the pseudo-crime of smoking marijuana, a drug considerably less dangerous than those hideous, heart rate-accelerating energy drinks that the 4.0 GPA crowd gulp down the night before every exam. Judging from the Daily Wildcat’s Police Beat section, these busts make up a startlingly high percentage of routine arrests on campus.

    Former Wildcat Opinions Editor Connor Mendenhall, whose blog, the Arizona Reefer Review, keeps a running tally of campus drug-busts, has regularly pointed out that most of the dorm residents busted for marijuana possession are unaware of their constitutional rights. That testifies to how thoroughly cowed we are, as does our student leaders’ silence on the matter.

    But this policy could not be more relevant to our current condition, as the UA sinks into a financial mire of budget shortfalls, desperate reorganization schemes and forced cutbacks. What better time to ask whether pursuing and penalizing student drug-users is really the wisest use of our time and money?

    Of course, the UA didn’t write this policy, and it might be argued that even a united university community would be hard-pressed to change a federal law. But difficult is not the same as impossible, and it’s not impossible to imagine changed policy resulting from a nation of colleges raging against a policy that demands that they treat campus pot-smokers the same way they would treat, say, an outbreak of campus heroin addiction.

    Our student government leaders, so eager to leap on anything that smacks of the downtrodden, should make this issue their own. At the very least, they would make it clear that this issue is an issue, and one that affects us all. After all, even those of us who don’t partake still wind up paying when those who do get busted – we pay through the teeth for the service, in fact, every April.

    Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Justyn Dillingham, Laura Donovan, Taylor Kessinger, Heather Price-Wright and Nickolas Seibel.

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