In order to eliminate drug use and
distribution across campus, Claremont McKenna College is acting to reinforce its current policies on drugs. President Hiram Chodosh,
Vice President for Student Affairs, Admission & Financial Aid Jeff Huang and Dean of Students Mary Spellman sent an email March 11 to students emphasizing
the “…existing [campus] policies on drugs,” and that “educational outreach
and enforcement of policies will be expanded.”
The email, which suggests potential
exploration of “different kinds of investigative techniques, interventions and
partnerships with local law enforcement authorities,” caused backlash amongst
students after the administrators pointed to the possibility of searching rooms in CMC-owned residence halls, including the use of drug-sniffing dogs.
In an interview with TSL, Spellman
specified that the administration “didn’t actually create a new drug policy.
The [email] was sharing that this is important to us and we have a drug policy.
We were sharing that there might be tools we would use, like the drug dogs, if
we had a credible complaint about something that would warrant the use of a
drug dog. There’s no new policy in that memo.”
Huang said the expansion of policy is a
result of “some specific situations on our campus that were involving dealing,
allegations of cocaine going through our mailroom, just some credible
information that we’ve started to research. And some of it turned out to be
Huang noted that while the quantities
of drugs being distributed across campus was relatively small, this activity was still a concern.
“We’re not talking like kilos or
bricks, Colombian cartels,” Huang said. “But we were hearing that was coming through our
mailroom. And so just in trying to figure out what can we do about this, I
don’t know if any of us felt comfortable ripping open mail. And I don’t think
any of us felt like we could sniff the mail and tell or not, so what do you do?
It’s a pretty big liability for the college to know specific situations and not
do something about that. And so we thought, ‘well, can we get drug dogs to walk
around the mailroom?’”
Camilo Vilaseca CM ‘16 said he believed the administration’s efforts would not solve the root problems.
“I thought it was a big change from the policies
of CMC when I arrived,” he said. “The larger issue of people selling out of their rooms
and on campus is something that I don’t think the administration is equipped to
handle. I think the issue is a cultural issue.”
Vilaseca, who described the email as “amusing,” said that “the issue of
cocaine passing through Story House [CMC’s mailroom] is more indicative of a hard drug issue
that CMC has personally. I think that CMC’s bigger issue is harder drugs like
cocaine, which I think is a cultural issue based around CMC’s focus on econ and
Huang explained that the administration is still researching approaches to drug policy enforcement and said that they are committed to learning about “what strategies would be best for dealing with credible
If these strategies
proved successful and drug dealers were identified, Spellman wrote that students would still be held accountable for breaking college policy, although the college would offer support if the distributor had issues with drug use.
“Addiction would not provide amnesty from the accountability for
distribution,” Spellman wrote.
Some students, like Austin Gosch CM
‘18, saw the expansion of policies as an appropriate reaction to recent drug
incidents on campus.
“I think it is necessary,” Gosch said.
“There is quite a bit of drug use here … It needs to be contained on our
campus. I agree with what CMC has been doing, especially with what’s been
happening with the drug soliciting that happened on campus. I’m totally okay
with the email that was sent out.”
When asked about his feelings about the
use of drug dogs on campus, Gosch’s answer was simple: “If it comes to the
point where they feel like they need it, I would trust them.”