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The Blue & Gray Press | January 20, 2019

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One-Strike Drug Policy Addressed At Student-Run Campus Forum

Staff Writer

The Mary Washington chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) held their final forum of the semester in Combs Hall this past Monday to discuss thoughts, suggestions, and ideas for changing the face of the University’s one-strike drug policy.

The policy “makes it unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell or distribute or possess with intent to sell, give or distribute any controlled substance, imitation controlled substance, or marijuana at any time while upon the property, including buildings and grounds or upon property open to public use within 1,000 feet of University property.”

President Rick Hurley and the Vice President of Student Affairs, Doug Searcy were among the 23 attendees to listen and respond to the opinions expressed at the student forum.

Hurley distanced his administration from the one-strike policy, saying that he “inherited the policy” and stressing that his administration does not “take ownership of it.”

“If a significant voice of opposition came from the student body, it would be brought before the board,” Searcy said, while suggesting that SSDP get anyone they can involved in order to push the movement forward, including faculty, students and student organizations.

According to the Judicial Affairs and Community Responsibility section of the University of Mary Washington website, which details the drug policy and sub-policies therein, the school was deemed a “drug free school zone” on April 11, 1992.

Under this policy, simple possession warrants automatic expulsion, according to Searcy.

Also during the discussion, senior Gilmore McLean said, “I feel dis-empowered as a student because we have to keep asking the administration what do they want, but we are the students paying to attend here – it should be what we want, and I’m a dissatisfied customer.”

Though not in attendance on Monday, sophomore Josephine Appiah counters the change SSDP is looking for by saying, “I think that, since those drugs are already illegal in the federal system, the school should abide by it with the one-strike policy.”

This was the first time Hurley attended an SSDP meeting.

In addition, Searcy said will come to any future discussions and encouraged the students to “Beat the thing up so that when you walk out you know you’re doing the right thing for Mary Washington.”

Junior Kyle Swecker, started the club in January and said he was proud of the recruiting he’s accomplished as president since the beginning of the spring semester.

A common misconception is that SSDP only fights for marijuana; however, according to the official SSDP website, “when SSDP works on marijuana policy reform, it is part of an effort to attack drug prohibition in its entirety.”

He plans to have more discussions like this next year in order to attract the whole student body as well as faculty and strengthen the campus-wide movement.

Swecker stressed the importance of community and concluded by saying, “We need to stick together to show that we want this.”


  1. Nich Shoukas

    Hm, it’s interesting that the counter-argument provided was from someone who didn’t attend the forum. Under the line of thinking Josephine Appiah provided there should also be a one strike policy for students under the age of 21 who drink, since that’s illegal.

  2. Anonymous

    Are there any qualms about that? I certainly have none. That too can be changed, and may eventually change. Just like the one-strike policy may be changed.

    Therefore, the only issue is getting the majority of students/parents/all people involved with Mary Washington to agree with the policy. In all honesty, there never will be a consensus on any of those fronts, which means that there most likely will not be a change. If the case was brought up with alcohol, then there would be a general consensus (among 2/3 of the prior list), and then be left to the bureaucratic system to bring it into effect. Not everything is as cut and dry as lumping up different scenarios under a single idea that was quoted in this issue.

    I give the SSDP more power in trying to voice their opinion on this matter and attempting to go through with democratic means. But with quotes such as those from Gilmore McLean, we may pay the money, but it affects the school’s image, student body, etc. In regard to marijuana, any change could drastically change everything about the school and how it is portrayed to all people. It is not an issue that is solely decided by the students, and inevitably rises to the desks of the people who will be here for longer than just 4-5 years, and put in just as much time as we students.

    I’m not looking for an argument on the comments section of the Bullet (for once). I do appreciate the means at which both sides take a stance and how they’re using their words to describe it (and much more than it just being “good” or “bad” for the students. Just don’t stoop down to the level where we discredit the other comment writers and the journalist, and please be more descriptive when talking about either side. Why not take the forum to right here?

    For the record, I’m pro-one strike. With as much information that was given to the students, prior to accepting to go here, it was a large focus in all discussions and pamphlets. You knew what you were getting into. But, that’s just my opinion. Take it as it is; something that you can refute, but it isn’t going to change.