College drug testing

We’ve often talked here about the fact that suspicionless drug testing in most situations is wrong, and doesn’t actually work, whether it’s in high schools, for welfare recipients, or on the job. And, of course, it’s a big business.

It’s bad enough at the high school level, but college?

Here are two pieces from’s Chronicle

Drug Testing

University of Alabama Subjects All Frat Members to Mandatory Drug Tests. Every fraternity member at the school was required to pass a drug test at the beginning of the academic year, and now, fraternity members are being randomly selected each week for more drug tests. If students test positive, they get several warnings before they are expelled from the fraternity and a university anti-drug program intervenes to “help students get back on track before the school doles out harsher penalties. The drug testing program has been criticized by fraternity members and others as invading the privacy of students, but no one has yet challenged it in court.

ACLU to Appeal Federal Court Ruling Allowing Drug Testing of All Students at Missouri Tech College. The ACLU of Missouri said it will appeal an 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upholding the suspicionless drug testing of all students at the State Technical College of Missouri. The ACLU is seeking a rehearing of the case before the same three-judge appeals court panel that ruled in the school’s favor or by the entire bench in the 8th Circuit. The ACLU had filed suit in 2011 to challenge the policy and won at the district court level, but the appeals court last year reversed the lower court decision. The federal courts have held that, with a handful of exceptions, mandatory suspicionless drug testing violates the Fourth Amendment’s proscription against warrantless searches and seizures. The ACLU said the appeals court decision is “poorly crafted and departs from the 8th Circuit and Supreme Court precedent.”

I remember when the Missouri Tech College case originally came up and thinking that it should be a slam dunk to stop that in the courts (and it was initially). But I don’t remember hearing about the appeals court. This needs to be stopped so it doesn’t give any other colleges ideas.

As far as the one at University of Alabama, I see where they’re going with it – using the idea that worked in high schools, of targeting those who participate in extra-curricular activities – in this case as a requirement to participate in frats. What a colossally stupid approach. In my experience, the biggest problem in frats is alcohol, something that will not be caught by drug testing. If anything, it’ll drive the frats to focus solely on alcohol, which is not necessarily a good thing.

When I was in college, we didn’t have frats, but we had similarly structured “social groups” (just without separate housing). The one social group least likely to put their fist through a wall, hurt someone, or cause problems on campus was the one whose drug of choice was pot rather than alcohol.

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