Student seeks equal penalties for weed, alcohol

By on February 23, 2011

After seeing one friend after another kicked off campus for marijuana possession, sophomore Ben Goodheart decided the conduct system at Quinnipiac was broken and needed fixing.

“I want to at least get the ball rolling on equalizing punishments for marijuana possession and alcohol possession, because you don’t have kids smoking tons of pot in New Haven every weekend and getting their stomachs pumped, you just have kids getting stoned and watching Adult Swim,” he said.

Chief of Security David Barger cited a study to the Chronicle that showed the negative societal impacts of alcohol abuse were more than those of marijuana.

When asked about the effects of marijuana versus alcohol on campus, Barger said, “I think you’ll see a greater cost for alcohol just because you see more alcohol. On a case-by-case basis? I don’t know, I can’t even venture a guess.”

Goodheart is in the process of bringing a chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy to Quinnipiac. He hopes to use the organization to educate students on the negative impacts of marijuana prohibition.

“Basically I want to raise awareness using statistics and facts to show that prohibition is way more dangerous than drugs themselves are,” Goodheart said.

Goodheart isn’t the only one trying to give students faced with conduct charges a fighting chance. Sophomore Devon Jerome is the president of the Quinnipiac Pre-Law Society, and he’s decided to use his legal knowledge to help students facing charges from the university.

Currently, university policy bars students from having any form of direct representation at conduct hearings. Students may have an adviser who is a member of the Quinnipiac faculty, staff, or student body, but the adviser may not speak on the student’s behalf at all.

“When you come in [for a conduct hearing], I want to have a conversation with you,” Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Seann Kalagher said. “If you have an advisor … whose only reason for being there is to be a vocal advocate for the person they’re sitting next to, that’s a barrier between myself and the student.”

Goodheart thinks this reasoning is flawed.

“That system automatically gives the school the upper hand,” he said. “Conduct officers will know way more about the procedure than a student will know. They are not giving students a fair chance.”

Jerome has stepped in and attempted to offer some sort of help to students facing conduct charges. He talks to the students to get their side of the story, then helps them write a script to give them a rough idea of what to say when the conduct officer asks for their version of what happened.

“I also talk to them about what the process entails,” Jerome said. “I tell them how they need to act, how they need to behave, and what they can expect.”

He said out of all the students he’s worked with so far, they have been found not responsible for at least half their charges.

Jerome likens distribution charges to murder at Quinnipiac, “because it’s a very, very big charge, and if you’re found responsible you can easily get expelled.”

Goodheart doesn’t think minor drug charges should automatically involve some sort of housing suspension, while alcohol offenses often end with a slap on the wrist.

“They’re deluding themselves when it comes to alcohol,” he said. “Yes, there are some people dealing, but there are also people buying alcohol for underage kids, and they’re going to end up vomiting and blacking out. And date rape is not an uncommon thing here with all the alcohol.”


About Matt Ciepielowski


  1. TheBigCheese

    February 23, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Quinnipiac’s rules on marijuana are so ridiculous it has made me think about changing schools. I don’t want to worry about losing housing over a dimebag. Tell me one time somebody that was high came home and beat their wife. Now think about when people drink…. Stupid uneducated people that are ignorant to the truth

    • Proud Conservative

      February 23, 2011 at 6:19 pm

      The medical marijuana movement and its million dollar media campaign have helped contribute to the changing attitude among our youth that marijuana use is harmless. This softening in anti-drug attitudes among teens has led to a 140% increase in marijuana use among high school seniors from 94′-95′.
      The pro-legalization organizations behind these ballot initiatives deny that there is a drug problem among our youth. As much as they seek to focus on people suffering with illnesses, we must keep the debate properly centered on the safety of our kids. In a time where drug use among kids has increased 78% in the last four years, this country cannot afford to undermine drug prevention efforts with these pro marijuana ballot initiatives.

      The strategy to link marijuana with current legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco is used regularly by the pro-legalization groups. The response to this argument is to state that current use among teens is 50% for alcohol, 34% for tobacco and 19% for marijuana. If we want to see marijuana use among youth equal to alcohol and tobacco, then we should go ahead and legalize marijuana.

      Legalizing marijuana would add a third drug that combines some of the most serious risks of alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana offers both the intoxicating effects of alcohol and the long-term lung damage of tobacco.

      Tobacco companies similarly advertised cigarettes as medicinal until the Federal Trad Commision put a stop to it in 1955. Medicinal marijuana is the “Joe Camel” of the promarijuana lobby, since it is children, the first time users, who are most impressed by these erroneous health claims.

      I’m sure that this will get alot of you all heated up but let’s try and keep this on an intelligent level please.

      Now convince me i’m wrong!

  2. The Ignorant Truth

    February 23, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Valid point, but I think Quinnipiac’s argument is that marijuana is illegal, alcohol isn’t, so why should they have the same penalty. This whole article is ridiculous and pretty much asking for security to search Mr. Ben Goodheart’s room because he clearly enjoys a little weed just like his friends who unfortunately got kicked out of housing.

    • 420 man

      February 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm

      But the thing is that alcohol is illegal on campuses and for anyone under the age of 21. While weed is illegal to everyone, alcohol is illegal to students on campus and to any under the age of 21.

      So if it is illegal then why should we not have the same consequences as weed? Should we start kicking everyone out of housing for having a beer or two when they are underage as well?

      The argument stands that while weed is illegal so is alcohol, the consequences should be the same or very similar.

    • lol

      February 23, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      Sure, and we should blindly accept all laws and statutes imposed upon us. God forbid anyone tries to lobby to change a law that ruins more lives than it saves.

      I know a few people who have been busted for marijuana, and up until they were caught it had no negative consequence on their lives. They weren’t dealing, they weren’t failing out of class, it didn’t affect any of their relationships with people, it just gave them a way to unwind, much in the same way you’d come home from a tough day of class and have a drink or two to relax. Is that really such a big deal? Is that really worth potentially ruining futures over?

  3. Whatever Backfreckle

    February 23, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Great point ignorant truth, alcohol isn’t illegal in the United States of America, and it is not decriminalized as it is in states such as Massachusetts. It is an illegal substance, there for the penalty should be far worse, it is plain and simple. Stop smoking it in your rooms as if the unmistakeable aroma of marijuana won’t raise questions and spark investigations.

    • 420 man

      February 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm

      But the thing is that alcohol is illegal on campuses and for anyone under the age of 21. While weed is illegal to everyone, alcohol is illegal to students on campus and to any under the age of 21.

      So if it is illegal then why should we not have the same consequences as weed? Should we start kicking everyone out of housing for having a beer or two when they are underage as well?

      The argument stands that while weed is illegal so is alcohol, so therefore shouldnt the consequences should be the same or very similar?

  4. Summer Stoner

    February 23, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I completely agree with Goodheart in this article. I enjoy weed every now and then, and the effects are not half as bad as those which come from alcohol, speaking from personal experience.

    Sure it’s illegal, but if it was SO BAD FOR YOU then why is it being used as medical treatment in states such as California? (I believe there are 11 states total which allow medicinal use of marijuana)
    I suffer migraine headaches, and half the time the medicine doesn’t work for me. I’d love a doctor to prescribe me weed to see how it would work in a medical sense.

    I smoke at home, but refuse to here because of the paranoia of losing housing over it. But honestly? I’d much rather smoke a bowl than take 3+ shots of vodka to ‘take the edge off.’

    • Thar Be Trolls.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:47 am

      @ Summer Stoner
      If I had to take a WILD guess as to why you have migraine headaches, I’d guess its the 3+ shots of vodka, you lush, and its not used FOR medical treatment, but rather to alleviate the pain of having a cancerous growth in your body, read up on cancer some time: It isn’t your ass looking to take the edge off, that’s for sure.

      Truth is, QU is pretty damn strict about who can even hold a cup with a substance that looks vaguely like alcohol: its your ass getting in trouble in more than 50% of the time. whats the safer bet? The same thing that most QU students do every night Pinky, Try to Take over- wait wrong occasion.
      Gotham, Hula Hanks, Pearl, Toads, And the other 4-5 other bars or bar equivalents near the school. As for Marijuana? Don’t do it on campus?

  5. GoingtoQUmakesmedrink

    February 23, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    If being caught with alcohol has the same punishment as weed at Quinnipiac, they would lose half the student body. Just saying…

    Regardless, I do agree..losing housing over smoking weed is a absolute ridiculous punishment.

    • 420 man

      February 23, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      I was attempting to put into light the stupidity of kicking someone out for the possesion of a dime bag. Not saying the university should kick people out for alcohol.

      Someone said that weed was illegal so the punishment should be greater. Well the fact is alcohol is also illegal,

      So why not make the punishment for possesion the same as the punishment for possesion of acohol as it stands now

  6. Gary St. Marvelous

    February 23, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Personally, I think its clear that Quinnipiac University advocates for marijuana possession/use, as per their student newspaper name, “The CHRONICle.” There is definitely some foul play here. SUBLIMINAL MESSAGING.

  7. Dingle Dick

    February 24, 2011 at 12:05 am


  8. Dingle Dick

    February 24, 2011 at 12:07 am

    connecticut is for dingle berries you should probably leave new england now and never go back, its the one part of this country where its people are not worthy of the title of american

  9. Rumple Ramford

    February 24, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    look man, you have no idea what your talking about this country was settled by hippies, hippies who instead of smoking johnny apple seeds dang apples smoked free religon. then it was founded by men who instead of snorting tea in the boston harbor were shotting up the ideas of freedom for all men and government shrinkage. to bash one geographic region of this fair nation is like booing meth as you nibble on some speed!!!!!!!!!

  10. Rumple Ramford

    February 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    notice i used extra exclamation points for dramatic effect

  11. Joe Pa

    February 24, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Kudos Goodheart. I had upwards of a dozen conduct meetings for alcohol related incidents, vandalism, fighting, open containers, etc., my freshman year and my cumulative punishment amounted to being kicked off campus on weekends for a semester.

    Meanwhile, students who were caught simply smoking marijuana in the privacy of their own rooms, having no detrimental impact on the community, were expelled or kicked off campus permanently.

    A change to this draconian policy is certainly necessary.

  12. Thar Be Trolls.

    February 24, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    It could use some Capslock.