Marijuana use rises

Students smoking marijuana in rooms attract attention of Residence Life, Safety and Security

News Co-Editor
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Just six weeks into the spring semester, approximately 15 marijuana incidents occurred on campus, according to Jeff Schneider, Director of Safety and Security.

At this rate, formal citations will exceed Schneider’s fall estimate of 20 to 25 cases.

“It seems as if there have been increasing incidents this past academic year,” he said in an e-mail. “It has become more noticeable because students are smoking indoors.”

Both Schneider and Assistant Director of Residence Life and Student Conduct Officer Joseph Hall said that there is not a collaborated, organized marijuana ‘crackdown’ between the two offices, but that Residence Advisors are simply responding diligently.

Hall said that marijuana usage has not only increased at Allegheny in the past two years, but also across the country.

“Residence Life staff is making more of a presence in the residence halls and hence confronting such behaviors more often,” Schneider said.

A male student was recently written up for smoking marijuana in his room. He asked to remain anonymous because he didn’t want to be associated with the event after graduation.

He said he had just taken “maybe three hits” and immediately heard a knock on his door.

“I opened the door and saw one of the RAs, a CA, and a security officer,” he said. “I recognized the RA as someone that I had known since my freshman year.”

The student received an e-mail from the Office of Residence Life the following morning and had an appointment the next morning, less than 48 hours since he was cited.

He is on probation until the end of the Fall 2012 semester. Probation is a notice that the student is no longer in good standing with the college.

The Student Handbook states that a student is returned to good standing and records are maintained in the Dean’s office after the specified period. The student’s parents and academic advisers are also notified when a student is placed on probation, but the record is not externally reported as part of the student’s disciplinary record.

Schneider emphasized that if students are caught smoking marijuana by City police, they are arrested.

“I didn’t know they [Residence Life] were going to be so harsh because when I was written up for drinking last year, Res Life explained that at the end of the warning period all record of drinking would be gone,” the anonymous student said.

However, in his meeting with the residence life staff member, his past record was immediately addressed.

“I didn’t ask about it,” he said. “I looked in the student handbook and it said that [the first incident] would be kept on record in case anything else happened.”

Article VI A of the student handbook states that records are maintained in the student’s file in the Dean of Students Office and are taken into consideration in future violations. After the warning period, the warning is not externally reported as part of the student’s disciplinary record.

Hall said that repercussions for marijuana citations are consistent with past decisions.

“We review each incident based on the facts involved and what we believe more than likely occurred, based on evidence,” he said.

The anonymous student admitted that he was aware of the consequences for smoking marijuana, a direct violation of general college policy number 8, “Use, possession, or distribution of narcotic, or other controlled substances, as well as drug paraphernalia, except as permitted by law.”

“I thought that worse things like cocaine, mollies, or alcohol had become more virulent on campus and that security would be more worried about those than what is one of the least harmful drugs out there,” he said.

Schneider said that alcohol and marijuana are the two most used drugs on campus. He also said that usage is non-discriminatory.

“I am not sure why it is the drug of choice,” he said. “Culture? A generational thing? The big issue, as I previously iterated, is the risk to life and property in the residence halls. One day we may have a disaster from such inconsiderate and illegal behavior.”