Deliberating on drugs

Is it the duty of universities to combat the rise in the number of students using recreational drugs?

multiple writers
14th May 2018
Image: The Blue Diamond Gallery
The University of Buckingham has been caught in a national media storm following its controversial attempts to become Britain’s first drug-free campus. 

The university is planning to request all students to sign contracts promising to not consume illegal drugs on university property. This has come following The Sunday Times reporting that the number of UK students penalised for drug-related felonies has increased by 42% since 2015.

Acclaimed drug policy advisor Tom Lloyd, who formerly served as Cambridgeshire’s chief constable, is critical of the proposal, suggesting that the university is “infantilising” students with its “naïve” beliefs.

His viewpoint mirrors many major arguments in drug policy debate. If the university genuinely wants to discourage use of illicit substances, merely prohibiting them from campus won’t achieve this aim. Students would undeniably continue taking drugs, merely in different, and potentially more dangerous, locations. Is the university suggesting this policy just to cover its own back and protect the reputation of the campus without caring for the wellbeing of its students? To discourage substance abuse, the university must instead get to the root of the problem and offer pastoral support. Students need to be consulted to establish their own personal drug-related concerns, and in liaison with drug policy professionals the university can establish a progressive policy, which acknowledges the reasons for students’ substance intake.

Tom Lloyd furthers this by encouraging the presence of drug-testing organisations such as The Loop on university campuses. Ultimately recreational drugs are an integral part of modern student life, and any attempts at prohibition, however well-meaning, will just fall flat. People will always find a way to meet their needs. Instead, the University of Buckingham should adapt a forward-thinking approach which prioritises safe, controlled and responsible drug use and puts the mental and physical wellbeing of students in first place.

Grace Dean

Anyone with a semblance of morality will not want to see the lives of our young people squandered through, not only the carelessness of the self, but also due to an absence of care by the state. 

As any classical libertarian like myself should believe, the state should have as little interference in people’s lives as is possible. However, interference in certain areas is necessary so that the quality of life and the general wellbeing of the society as a whole is not compromised.

We have seen a marked 50% decrease in drug arrests since 2010. What sort of message does this send to the would-be drug user or despicably criminal drug supplier? It seems like a green light to me: go on, go ahead, ruin your life, break the law. It’s not as though there will be any real penalty.

Students see no real consequence for drug abuse. Many of them are studying for degrees they care little for and are of ever decreasing value. More and more of our young people are being hoisted on the education factory meat hooks like chattel, discarded and unwanted by the state and by the multitude of politicians who are so far removed from reality that the present situation comes as no surprise.

So why shouldn’t universities step in where the state has failed? They evidently have more sense and sympathy for the young minds they cultivate than the law seems to.

What this has lead to is a generation with more drug addicts than ever before and a severe and purely evil corruption of our young’s mental health.

To quote Peter Hitchens, a distinguished author on the subject: “wouldn’t it therefore be wise to deter them from doing so by a stern and effective criminal justice system which actually persuaded them it was unwise to take drugs in the first place?” If the state won’t step up and save this generation from ruin, as it should, then well done to Buckingham University for taking a stand.

John O'Carroll

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