Students caught with marijuana in Middlebrook

by Alan Butterworth

Police were dispatched to Middlebrook Hall on Sunday after receiving a report of a marijuana odor coming from a room, according to police reports.

Officers spoke with the room occupants and recovered a small amount of marijuana and three pipes, the report stated.

Wachen Anderson, judicial affairs coordinator for Housing and Residential Life, said the drug policy for University housing prohibits students from the possession of any illicit drugs or controlled substances.

“They can’t consume them nor be under their influence while in housing,” Anderson said.

All full-time professional staff members are responsible for implementing the policy.

Steve Johnson, deputy police chief for the University Police Department said University police officers are working more closely with the housing department to enforce the drug policy.

“Housing calls us and reports violations. Where in the past they may not have called us all the time, now when they smell marijuana or any other paraphernalia shows up in the residence halls, they call us,” he said. “We’re coordinating our efforts and understanding each others’ procedures and policies.”

Johnson said there are approximately 100 drug arrests annually on campus.

“That’s gone up in recent years because our officers are doing a lot more aggressive enforcement,” he said.

Anderson said she would argue that drugs are not a significant problem on the University campus, particularly in comparison to other colleges and universities.

“Our numbers are pretty low compared to other institutions our size and institutions of our type.”

Johnson said most marijuana-use violations happen in University residence halls. The majority of other drug arrests besides marijuana usually happen at traffic stops in suspicious circumstances, he said.

Students’ privacy is not invaded when police or housing officials investigate possible drug use, Anderson said.

“When students contract to live with us in housing, they agree to abide by not only law but the policies and standards that we implement in order to keep housing a safe environment.”

The drug possession penalties in University housing vary depending on the case, Anderson said.

“The most extreme thing that can happen is that students can be removed from housing,” she said.

“Minimally, in circumstances where the student would not be removed, they would face removal for any future violation of any sort – even if it wasn’t drug-related,” Anderson said.

She said the student has to get a dependency assessment at Boynton Health Service and see a drug counselor about his or her use or abuse of any particular substance.