Should universities take a stronger line on drugs? Watch

Poll: Should universities take a stronger line on drugs?
Yes, for anyone involved with illegal drugs (946)
40.97%
Yes, but only for those dealing drugs (557)
24.12%
No, the current stance is enough (177)
7.67%
No, it is not their responsibility (568)
24.6%
Other (please specify) (61)
2.64%
shadowdweller
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Most students think taking illegal drugs causes problems for users as well as society and want their universities to take a tougher stance

The Higher Education Policy Institute and the University of Buckingham worked together with YouthSight to survey the attitudes of full-time undergraduate students towards drugs. The findings showed that a majority of students think illegal drugs cause problems, both for society, and for those who take them. In fact, 88% think drug usage causes problems ‘for the mental health of the user’ and 68% think it causes problems ‘for society in terms of contributing to criminality’.

According to the survey results, 71% of students have not taken illegal drugs during their time in higher education' this strongly contrasts with a report from the National Union of Students (NUS), which suggested that 56% of students have taken drugs.

In addition to the above, 62% of students want their universities to take a tougher stance on drugs; both on those who repeatedly use them, and on drug dealers themselves. It was also found that 53% of students said that their university does not do enough to deter illegal drug use.

If you'd like to read more, click the hyperlink in the title, which will take you to the full HEPI article. Anthony Seldon, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, also has some comments within the article, discussing how he wants his university to become the country's first drug free university.

What do you think, is a drug-free university a feasible goal? Are universities taking a strong enough stance on drugs as things stand now? Discuss your views on it here, and vote in the poll to have your say.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by shadowdweller)

What do you think, is a drug-free university a feasible goal? Are universities taking a strong enough stance on drugs as things stand now? Discuss your views on it here, and vote in the poll to have your say.
Very interesting article!

I think it's hard to say a "drug-free university" is a feasible goal without fairly invasive searches of halls etc. which most students wouldn't be keen on. Obviously a lot of students live in private accommodation, where the university have no real powers. I do think it would be possible to have a drug free SU, for example, which would be a good goal.

If 30-50% of students are trying drugs, it wouldn't be feasible for unis to punish everyone taking drugs, either- although I do think those found dealing from student accommodation etc should be dealt with as this can make life unpleasant for others.

One thing unis could do is offer more drug and addiction support for students, so that if students are having a problem, they have somewhere to turn for help. They could also provide more general mental health support to students.

It is interesting that there's such a large contrast between the two surveys. I'd be interested to know about how each survey found their sample.
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shadowdweller
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
Very interesting article!

I think it's hard to say a "drug-free university" is a feasible goal without fairly invasive searches of halls etc. which most students wouldn't be keen on. Obviously a lot of students live in private accommodation, where the university have no real powers. I do think it would be possible to have a drug free SU, for example, which would be a good goal.

If 30-50% of students are trying drugs, it wouldn't be feasible for unis to punish everyone taking drugs, either- although I do think those found dealing from student accommodation etc should be dealt with as this can make life unpleasant for others.

One thing unis could do is offer more drug and addiction support for students, so that if students are having a problem, they have somewhere to turn for help. They could also provide more general mental health support to students.

It is interesting that there's such a large contrast between the two surveys. I'd be interested to know about how each survey found their sample.
I think this is a good summary - I totally agree that an entirely drug-free university isn't a feasible goal without invasion of privacy; a drugs free SU is certainly a good alternative goal, in my view.
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ThomH97
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There are two claims here, that drugs cause problems for the user, and also for society in terms of crime.

1) Drugs causing problems for the user. This is nice for someone to be concerned about, but as adults you make your own decisions regarding alcohol, sex, tattoos, job choices etc. Things that can have a big impact further down the line.

2) Drugs contributing to criminality in wider society. Committing crimes while high are still crimes, and while I think they should be an exacerbating rather than mitigating factor, I don't think it makes sense to ban them. Sure, boot the student out of university if they commit crimes while high, but if they're doing nothing (else) wrong then they're not hurting anyone. In terms of supply line, that's a result of the government's idiocy in criminalising drugs, forcing it underground. It's like the Prohibition, best solved by legalising but taxing it.
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Elastichedgehog
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More education would be nice. People are going to take drugs regardless, the fact that they're illegal means nothing. Educating people properly on the risks associated with and what to do when something goes wrong would go a long way I think. Encouraging drug testing kits wouldn't be a bad idea either.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by shadowdweller)
I think this is a good summary - I totally agree that an entirely drug-free university isn't a feasible goal without invasion of privacy; a drugs free SU is certainly a good alternative goal, in my view.
Yeah, having thought about it more, I don't think I'd want to go to a uni that billed itself as fully drug free- not because I especially care about the access to drugs, but because the measures needed to enforce this would invade people's privacy too much. I wouldn't want regular accommodation searches for example, and I think any uni that tried to implement this would be on very dodgy grounds legally.

I do think unis should be tough on antisocial behaviour in halls or on campus, whatever the causes, but they should rely on students to report this and if students are taking drugs but not causing problems, then I'm not sure it is the unis place to get involved in policing this.

(Original post by ThomH97)
2) Drugs contributing to criminality in wider society. Committing crimes while high are still crimes, and while I think they should be an exacerbating rather than mitigating factor, I don't think it makes sense to ban them. Sure, boot the student out of university if they commit crimes while high, but if they're doing nothing (else) wrong then they're not hurting anyone. In terms of supply line, that's a result of the government's idiocy in criminalising drugs, forcing it underground. It's like the Prohibition, best solved by legalising but taxing it.
I don't think people are just thinking about crimes committed when high as such. I think the aruguement is more: people commit crimes such as theft to fund their addictions, drug supply often involves gangs which can lead to violent crimes during "turf wars" etc, production of drugs (in the UK and abroad) can involve unethical/illegal activities such as human trafficking.

I don't think it's as simple as saying legalising drugs would just make these problems go away- although it would help with some aspects. Many drugs do lead to mental health issues and addiction issues for a proportion of the users- as with alcoholism, this can eventually lead to them no longer being functional members of society- so these problem users will still exist, and turn to crime to fund their habits.
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ThomH97
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
I don't think people are just thinking about crimes committed when high as such. I think the aruguement is more: people commit crimes such as theft to fund their addictions, drug supply often involves gangs which can lead to violent crimes during "turf wars" etc, production of drugs (in the UK and abroad) can involve unethical/illegal activities such as human trafficking.

I don't think it's as simple as saying legalising drugs would just make these problems go away- although it would help with some aspects. Many drugs do lead to mental health issues and addiction issues for a proportion of the users- as with alcoholism, this can eventually lead to them no longer being functional members of society- so these problem users will still exist, and turn to crime to fund their habits.
That's what I mean with the supply line, crimes caused before the students get their hands on the drugs. You're right that legalising drugs wouldn't make the problems vanish, in the same way that alcohol being legal won't stop alcohol-fuelled crimes or theft to fuel their alcoholism, but it certainly doesn't have the turf wars and the problems caused by driving it underground. You also get other benefits such as being able to regulate the drugs so they are what they say they are, the potency is known etc which helps avoid accidental deaths.
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DrMikeHuntHertz
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Prohibition is the real crime.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by ThomH97)
That's what I mean with the supply line, crimes caused before the students get their hands on the drugs. You're right that legalising drugs wouldn't make the problems vanish, in the same way that alcohol being legal won't stop alcohol-fuelled crimes or theft to fuel their alcoholism, but it certainly doesn't have the turf wars and the problems caused by driving it underground. You also get other benefits such as being able to regulate the drugs so they are what they say they are, the potency is known etc which helps avoid accidental deaths.
I do agree there is an argument for legalisation- I just don't think it's the cure all that some people suggest it is! There might even be an increase in some crimes, such as driving while under the influence.

I agree known potency and knowing that drugs are exactly what they are being sold as would help avoid many accidental deaths.

However, I do think that legalisation could give people the impression that drugs are "safe" or not harmful. Obviously many drugs have harmful side effects (and yeah, I know we don't ban alcohol or cigarettes because of these) and can, for example, make pre-existing mental health conditions a lot worse.

Like I say, I'm not anti-legalisation, but I don't think it's as simple as it's sometimes made out to be.

Also, in the context of the thread, obviously the wider drug debate isn't really a problem for universities to solve- they have to work with the world as it is, where drugs are illegal and do contribute to wider social issues and criminality in society.
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ThomH97
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
I do agree there is an argument for legalisation- I just don't think it's the cure all that some people suggest it is! There might even be an increase in some crimes, such as driving while under the influence.

I agree known potency and knowing that drugs are exactly what they are being sold as would help avoid many accidental deaths.

However, I do think that legalisation could give people the impression that drugs are "safe" or not harmful. Obviously many drugs have harmful side effects (and yeah, I know we don't ban alcohol or cigarettes because of these) and can, for example, make pre-existing mental health conditions a lot worse.

Like I say, I'm not anti-legalisation, but I don't think it's as simple as it's sometimes made out to be.

Also, in the context of the thread, obviously the wider drug debate isn't really a problem for universities to solve- they have to work with the world as it is, where drugs are illegal and do contribute to wider social issues and criminality in society.
In that case, the university should just leave it all to the cops to deal with, and not have any extra conditions on drugs or other crimes?
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Neilos
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I see no value in a survey that groups substances as different as crack and cannabis together and provides no option for the respondent to give different answers for their views on each. It's like asking "Do you like wind?" and assuming the answers provide an accurate picture of attitudes towards both hurricanes and gentle breezes.

So... while I'd definitely support a tougher line on crack and meth, I couldn't care less if a university (or society as a whole) lets people smoke cannabis.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by ThomH97)
In that case, the university should just leave it all to the cops to deal with, and not have any extra conditions on drugs or other crimes?
With possession/drug taking I think this is fair- I don't think possession should be grounds for a uni disciplinary unless you've taken drugs and done something to bring the uni into disrepute, in which case the drugs could be seen as an aggravating factor (like alcohol).

With dealing, I do think this can lead to increased anti-social behaviour and can make it unpleasant to live somewhere (e.g. sharing halls with someone who's selling drugs is probably not very fun). I do think in this case, the uni could, for example, evict a student from halls, if they had reasonable proof and the police aren't interested.

Unis take interest in other criminal behaviour, so why not drugs?
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A stronger line? Now that isn’t going to help anyone.
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got a few things to say: firstly, some UNI take drugs a lot more seriously than other, i know in some uni sniffer dogs are bought into uni accommodation (Northumbria uni) , police involved ect, if drug use if suspected. one of my mates had these sniffer dog come into his accommodation and a guy ended up getting arrested but just got a fine, for some weed and a pill of MDMA.. i mean uni kinda ****ed him there tbh, but he only got a fine, since I guess the police there are so used to it. My uni at hall, where my mates lived, most the rooms had balconies and there was definitely a strong smell of weed throughout the year in around a large halls complex that house 3k + first years . the wardens of the halls, didn’t allow smoking on balconies at all and there was a fine, never actually implement.
My other point, from recent polls, from not the best sources, show drug use at most uni’s is still high and from my experience at uni, its still high; maybe not as high as before, but still high. So why add harsher punishment and how will they even police it. People the war on drugs is over and if you wanna go for someone go for the major supplier not some student who doesn’t need the start of his life ruined.. come on.
And like someone else said, as a chemist I got to question why drugs is lumped, there are soft and hard drugs, some fully legal in many countries. Also who gets to decide what is a drug society can’t take and other cant. I mean as a ex-smoker nicotine is a horrible foul addictive drug, but still legal.
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FarhanHalim
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I think they should carry out more searches on accommodation to ensure that there are no drugs there. It can be an invasion of privacy but unless you have something to hide I don’t see the problem.
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gjd800
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(Original post by FarhanHalim)
It can be an invasion of privacy but unless you have something to hide I don’t see the problem.
The oppressor's mantra.
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hazco
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No.
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Notoriety
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When I was in first year, a lad on my floor in halls was a frequent drug user. There were several people who dabbled with drugs (and this was perfectly benign), but this lad was addicted and needed help. He failed his first-year exams and for the next year transferred to a less "academic" uni; there he continued with his drug taking, OD'd and died shortly into his first year there.

For him, I don't think banning drugs would have worked. Any form of strong opposition would not work. He needed some support with his addiction and that can only come from more robust wellbeing and MH support across our unis; an accepting mind where he would know he could talk to someone at the uni without thinking he was jeopardising his place at the uni.
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Coke1
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76% of students have not taken illegal drugs at Uni? I find that very hard to believe.

Honestly it is not the responsibility of Universities to clamp down on drugs. They are dealing with adults who can make their own choices, and I also don't understand how they are going to enforce it. Are they going to hire more security to check people are not taking drugs? Are they going to search people? I am sure that the vast majority of drug usage is done off of campus. People have the right to a private life. There is no way of enforcing this. Anyone that thinks that Universities need to take more action is silly.
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CoolCavy
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Yes, in our contract it says that anyone doing illegal drugs will be (something like evicted i cant remember the exact words) yet people smoke weed in the middle of the day hanging out of their windows and no-one bats an eyelid.
Not sure what the uni could do about that cos is technically private accommodation that is just recommended by the uni, not sure the uni owns it anymore.
Weed stinks and is gross yet it's somehow acceptable at unis
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