Maryville College makes conscious decision to enforce drug policy

Maryville College Prevention and Implementation Team revisited the drug policy this summer and are enforcing any and all evidence of the use of drugs. Photo by Chandler Chastain.
Maryville College Prevention and Implementation Team revisited the drug policy this summer and are enforcing any and all evidence of the use of drugs. Photo by Chandler Chastain.

This summer, Maryville College administrations revisited the campus drug policy and made changes for the 2016-2017 academic year. Maryville College’s Prevention Implementation Team, a group of staff dedicated to preventing and disciplining the use of drugs and alcohol on campus, examined the existing drug policy. While the policy underwent no changes, the team agreed that the current standards needed to be enforced in a manner following the language of the policy.

After receiving complaints from non-drug-using students that even though the policy prohibited the use of drugs, there still remained clear evidence in residence halls that drugs were being used, such as strong smells.

“After reviewing the policy and its clear language that any use of drugs was prohibited, whether it was on campus or not, it became apparent we needed to either change the policy or start enforcing it as it is written,” said Dean Vandy Kemp.

The revision of the student handbook states that “the possession, use, distribution, manufacture, or sale of drugs or paraphernalia associated with drug use is strictly prohibited.” Because of the policy’s clear language depicting any use of drugs, the Prevention Implementation Team felt it was necessary to start enforcing the policy closer to the language, particularly the word “use.”

In order for a room search to be done, there must be probable cause that a student has been using drugs. Probable cause includes an obvious smell of marijuana coming from a room or a resident acting impaired.

“I have to approve all room searches and I make a judgement based on if I believe that there is a use of drugs present,” said Kemp. “If the search turns up negative, but there is still a belief that drug use has occurred, an incident report will be filed and there will be further determination if there is going to be a charge.”

If it is confirmed that a student has been using drugs, the school ensures there will be judicial charges and sanctions. The school does grant second chances, and evidence of personal use does not result in immediate suspension. However, if a student is suspected of and confirmed to be selling drugs, they will be suspended.

A major facet of the implementation of the drug policy is to prepare students for life outside of college and in the work force. “We don’t want students understanding that drug use is prohibited in the workforce, but thinking its okay to use while in school,” said Kemp.

A drug conviction eliminates student eligibility for state and federal financial aid, and as per the school handbook, all MC students are expected to be drug free at all times.

Fundamentally, the program and its policies have remained the same. “I think there’s more integrity with how we’re dealing with it now,” said Kemp. “There was a sense among students that the college winked at the drug issue, but if we believe there’s evidence for use, there will be action.”

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