By KALYNA JOWYK
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.”