Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

The Blue & Gray Press | August 22, 2019

Scroll to top


Public Debate Class Argues One-Strike Policy

The public debate practicum class held a forum to discuss the merits of the one-strike drug policy on campus yesterday, Nov. 17.

The debate was introduced by moderator Thomas Ella, who also spoke with Doug Rissing in favor of keeping the policy, followed by introductory arguments by Jonathan Ross and Andrew Lowdon, who spoke against it.  The four are students in a public debate practicum class.

Closing statements were followed by a question-and-answer portion with the audience.

“Eliminating the policy demonstrates an acceptance of illegal drugs,” Rissing argued. According to Rissing, the one-strike policy “defines our school and makes it different from other schools.”

Lowdon argued against the policy by comparing underage alcohol usage to drug usage.

“Underage alcohol use is illegal and you can’t get kicked out for that,” Lowdon said.

Ross and Lowdon were in favor of a case-by-case policy for drugs. This means each drug case would be evaluated and judged based on the person and the situation, so as not to punish marijuana users as severely as hardcore drug users. They cited James Madison University as an example of a school that has a three-strike policy.

They argued that the one-strike policy creates a culture of fear for drug users. Those who are addicted to drugs cannot seek help for fear of being caught and punished. They argued that eliminating down the one-strike policy would help addicts seek help.

An audience member and former drug addict reaffirmed the importance of this culture of fear.

Ella argued against this, saying the University will help people who are addicted to drugs seek fair treatment if they come forward.

“If you seek help, university health services will help you. They won’t bust you for coming to get help,” Ella said.

Ella also argued the one-strike policy prepares students for the real world. However, Ross said the real world is not as extreme as the one-strike policy.

“With marijuana, you get a misdemeanor,” Ross said. “People do make mistakes and we should take the mistakes into account.”

The debaters arguing for the policy said that marijuana can lead to chemical addiction. They also asked why the University should create what they said would be a friendlier atmosphere for drug users.

“In comparison to other schools, ours is not that strict,” Ella argued.

He cited Virginia Tech as an example of another university that has a zero-tolerance policy and Christopher Newport University as an example of a zero alcohol violation school. Ella also noted some Christian universities don’t even allow tobacco on campus.

In the closing statements, Lowdon argued that they were not proposing an environment where people can openly smoke down campus walk.

“But there is a difference between drugs and alcohol,” Lowdon said.

“It’s irrelevant to compare [drugs] to alcohol,” Ella argued. He and Rissing said alcohol becomes legal at a certain age, while drugs are always illegal.


  1. Relieved to have leaved

    “The debaters arguing for the policy said that marijuana can lead to chemical addiction.”
    There is no proof of marijuana being physically addictive among users. However, some may argue that there are psychological addictive properties which are comparable to exercising in the morning to freshen up or showering so one doesn’t gross out a girl sitting next to them in English class.

    Ella? It’s irrelevant to compare drugs to alcohol? How so? Alcohol is in fact a drug. Regardless of legality there is a little (big) problem called as alcoholism. Which is a PROVEN physical addiction. How can we hypocritically lesser a DRUG that INTOXICATES one merely due to legality? Claiming irrelevance is completely ignorant and only encourages the horrible picture that drinking, of any amount, is “O.K” because it’s legal.
    If UMW wants to sanctify a drug free school shouldn’t everything be deemed as inappropriate? What kind of message are we sending here?
    Legal or not, I’ll stick to a natural herb that has no potential of overdose, addiction, or induces stupor violent action. Cause apparently it seems that everyone needs their crutch. Listening to an authority about what to put into my body in times of eustress because of fear tactics is atrocious, spineless, and most of all conformist.

  2. Bozley

    What relieved to have leaved said, amen