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The Blue & Gray Press | November 20, 2017

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Whatever Happened to… One-Strike Drug Policy?

BY KRISTEN KELLEHER

Those who had hoped to see any change in the one-strike policy may have to wait until next year.

The movement, led by sophomore Nick DeSarno, Students for a Democratic Society and the Young Democrats, has been slow to organize anything formal this semester, instead raising campus awareness of the issue by circulating student petitions.

But for the fall, DeSarno has plans to schedule a series of events to mobilize a move towards a permanent policy adjustment, including a student forum and a collaborative approach to drawing up a new policy proposal.

“We want to write the policy in conjunction with students, faculty, community members,” DeSarno said. “Together we can be where UMW wants to be [and] not closing doors on UMW students.”
Inspiration for the student-led forum came out of a January 27 meeting between DeSarno and Douglas Searcy, vice president for Student Affairs.

“I certainly want to be supportive of the student voice,” Searcy said. “To address an important issue such as this, it takes a lot of information and communication from the student perspective.  We will certainly engage with the students when they are ready to dialogue about the policy.”

This push for organized student involvement could be vital to a university-wide policy change, as some administrators feel that this concern lies with individual students and is not problematic for the student body on the whole.

“It’s come up with individual students,” Cedric Rucker, dean of Student Life, said. “Not to discredit the passions of individual students, but I have not seen a grand swell in regards [to this movement].”

Students reported mixed opinions on the topic, but many said that they would be open to attending a student forum to express their opinions on the policy change.

Sophomore Allison Holloman, juniors Sarah Staunton and Eliza Danyi, and seniors Austin Robles and Nti Aning all said that they would be willing to participate in the forum, though not every student favored a more lenient policy.

“I think right now the policy is fine,” Holloman said. “If people want to do drugs, they take it off campus where it should be…I think it dissuades certain types of people from coming here.”

Junior Rebecca Harris, who also mentioned she would be willing to participate in a forum, expressed support for the campaign.

“Legally, it makes sense, but morally, it’s a bit harsh,” Harris said.

DeSarno has yet to officially schedule the student forum for next year.  It is expected to take place within the first four weeks of the upcoming semester.