Sanctions change for marijuana use on campus

By on May 4, 2016

Marijuana is the most prominent drug on campus, and as a result new changes have been made to the sanctions associated with drug violations regarding the drug, according to Associate Dean of Student Affairs Seann Kalagher.

The university has made adjustments over the years on student conduct sanctions relating to marijuana in order to maximize educational efforts before expelling them from the university.

“We have moved to first-time sanctions that involve weekend suspensions and/or educational sanctions in order to give students an opportunity to learn from their choices and remain a member of the residential community,” Kalagher said. “Repeated drug violations will still result in a suspension from university housing for a semester or longer.”

Sophomore Imran Tariq said the new changes to drug violation protocol aren’t surprising because of the influx of people using it and the media coverage marijuana has been receiving.

“It’s not at all surprising because of all the press and stories you hear in the media of how close marijuana is to being legalized it so makes sense that there’s going to be a lot of people using it,” Tariq said.

From the seven arrests that have taken place this academic year, five were confirmed by Hamden Police reports to involve marijuana.

Public Safety responded to a situation in the Crescent residence hall at the York Hill campus on Oct. 14, 2015, where a ziplock bag full of marijuana was found as well as a grinder, bongs and smoking paraphernalia, according to a Hamden Police report.

Another Hamden police report said on Nov. 1, Public Safety responded to situation on the Mount Carmel campus where two ziplock bags containing a green leaf-like substance was taken in for evidence. Later in the investigation it was confirmed to be marijuana.

On Feb. 23, 2016 a student was found with “The Marijuana Chef Cookbook,” three ziplock bags with marijuana in them, a plastic grinder and rolling papers among other marijuana related items, according to a Hamden Police report.

Sophomore Shannon Kelly said she doesn’t find the predominance of marijuana at Quinnipiac shocking.

“It doesn’t surprise me. That’s probably the safest drug that people use,” she said.

As of April 28, 2016 there have been 75 drug violations with 68 of them taking place in residential halls since the beginning of fall semester, according to a crime log compiled by the Department of Public Safety.

The Quinnipiac Clery Act defines a drug violation as the manufacture, distribution, transfer, possession with intent to sell, offer for sale, sale or possession of illegal or harmful drugs. This includes and prohibits hallucinogens, narcotics and drug paraphernalia.

Associate Vice President for Public Relations John Morgan refutes the notion that Quinnipiac has a drug problem.

“The university has a long history of acting swiftly to remove any student found to be dealing or using significant amounts of drugs,” Morgan said.

Of the 68 residential drug violations, more than half took place in freshmen housing with Commons contributing the most with 15 drug violations alone.

Tariq said he doesn’t find this trend surprising at all and instead thinks it’s logical for more freshmen to dabble in drugs versus upperclassmen.

“I guess freshmen would be the people who are more prone to doing or trying out that stuff whereas the other years are going to be people who are in it for the long haul. Once you get into your sophomore, junior, senior years, you’re going to be more focused on getting your degree,” Tariq said.

Sophomore Vanessa Claudomir agrees and claims the trend has to do with the new sense of control freshmen receive after leaving home.

“I feel like with freshmen, it’s their first time leaving home,” she said. “[Freshmen] go to college, [they] have a sense of control so of course it’s going to be them.”

Kalagher said freshmen who have drug violations are typically put through a different series of repercussions compared to other students. First-time violators are usually suspended for weekends and second time violations can result in a housing suspension for at least a semester. Meanwhile, a freshman is not suspended on a first violation and instead, he or she is fined. But a freshman will be suspended on the second violation.

Junior Shelby Starker agrees with the changes in sanction protocol with relation to freshmen as they are still transitioning to college life.

“I think that as a freshmen, you’re going through a big year of transitions and everyone obviously isn’t perfect and everyone is going to make mistakes, so I do see why they would fine freshman first,” Starker said. “ But I also believe that after one violation, a suspension is probably the most ideal punishment as we are trying to keep Quinnipiac as safe as possible.”

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About Thamar Bailey

Associate News Editor
Journalism Major and Spanish Minor