The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Letter to the Editor: 'One-Strike' Policy is More than Necessary

3 min read

The following was written in response to “One-Strike Drug Policy is Due to Strike Out,” March 27, 2008, The Bullet:)

Dear Editor:

First off, I appreciate the concern of the Students for a Democratic Society and, at least according to the guest columnist on March 27, the majority of the student population at UMW.
The one-strike policy with respect to use of illegal drugs is something to cause concern. I similarly recognize it as a complex issue with multiple sides, but I feel that after weighing all the factors it is not time for a change.
Do not get me wrong, I understand where the worries and arguments are coming from but they just do not convince me that justice should go take a break.
What do I mean by that? Well, the drugs are illegal.
Should we allow them on campus? No.
Now for a look into the study, which I thank all those involved for all the work they did:
“One participant said she had used drugs but believed the policy should not be changed. This result is assumed to be unreliable and will be removed altogether.”
Maybe that one is a statistical outlier, but it illustrates a good point. Responsibility, willingness to accept that one has broken the law and accept the consequence.
I admit that it may be very appealing to be counted among the more forgiving, not those “least forgiving among us.”
Yet does forgiveness imply abrogation of the consequences? It is not about forgiveness but it is that I agree with the policies purpose of preventing drug use.
I do know of people who have stopped using drugs now that they are here precisely because of the strict policy.
“Either due to compassion, concern for their friends, or whatever other reason, the one-strike penalty is not making students happy.” As wonderfully put as this bit of rhetoric is, it proves nothing besides the ease of appealing to the sense of compassion.
Yet if you feel compassion for someone, would you wish evil on them? The laws are there to prevent evil. Therefore, if there is a problem with the laws against those drugs it certainly is not an issue with the policy at Mary Washington but with the laws. Likewise, do not fall into the trap that the policy is supported because of negative stereotypes.
Nor is it that “21 percent of the students who make up this community are so destructive that they should be expelled.” Yet, according to the survey, 21 percent have violated the policy on not using illegal drugs which is a violation also of the honor code which, last I checked, we still pretend has some hold on us.
Some people do still hold honor in high regard, and if we want to start glorifying breaking the law or accepting breaking the law then I think much greater damage to the university is being done then would happen even if everyone who has done illegal drugs on campus were caught and expelled.
“Finally, if we look at the effect of expelling these students on society as a whole, we think it’s intuitively apparent that a college graduate that smokes pot will contribute more than a person who was expelled before finishing college and smokes pot.”
Unless said person who was expelled rights their ways, applies elsewhere, and becomes a college grad who does not smoke pot. Alternatively, the college grad that does not smoke pot out of respect for the law and honor code.
Moreover, there is the damage to society that is done by breaking the law. Is a grade higher on a test worth breaking the honor code and cheating?
Do not we all agree that in the end you end up hurting yourself more, and society? If it is so in this small matter then how much more so in larger matters of law?
To quote Alex Rohde, the author of the opposing view presented on March 27, “It is for all these reasons: ethical, democratic, and pragmatic that” I feel relaxing the one-strike policy is not the best option.
I encourage all those who believe in the policy to stand with me in opposition and to check Facebook for a group to join to speak out.

Jacob McCrumb is a freshman.