By Thompson Imasogie
In 2011 Linn State Technical College in Linn, Missouri decided to experiment with a new policy, a policy that required drug testing for all incoming students and some returning students. To no surprise this policy was met with a plethora of protest, disdain from both students and parents, as well as a series of lawsuits that had the Linn State board of trustees clambering in their knees. In the end a federal judge ordered the college to stop drug testing students and the rest was history. But what if Linn State was able to carry out drug testing? Would the trend catch on? Afterall colleges and universities across the board (be it public or private institutions) generally take a strong stance against student drug use, in fact many colleges and universities have strong policies in place to ensure that students who violate said policies are punished. So what makes the case of Linn State any different? Other than the obvious violation of student privacy many viewed this controversial rule as hyper authoritative and simply put too strict. The Huffington Post of October 26th, 2011 states that “Linn State Technical College’s program calls for screening all first-year students and some returning students for cocaine, methamphetamines, oxycodone and eight other drugs.” Whats interesting about this is that universities can openly punish students for using banned substances yet they can’t prevent students who are users from enrolling. If your confused don’t worry, your not alone. From the same article,”The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six students at Linn Tech” moreover “The suit claims the program violates students’ Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful searches and seizures”. One may ask the simple question “If colleges can’t drug test students then why can’t collegiate governing bodies (i.e NCAA) drug test athletes for non performance enhancing substances?” Well according to the NCAA website the governinig body drug test athletes because of health and safety concerns, the use of performance enhancing drugs, etc. But, as the website states Bylaw 10.2 does not require schools to have a drug testing policy but does require them to follow the policy. The website then points out that “If a school fails to adhere to their drug testing program, it faces the possibility of going on probation, which would in essence mean NCAA monitoring of the school’s institutional drug testing program.”. Long story short; if you don’t want to drug test your athletes then fine.. just know that your athletic program will be put on probation. Policies like these, and governing bodies such as the NCAA, are the driving force in the hierachical paradigm that places student athletes above plain ol’e students. With that said, the sharp contrast between the lawsuits against Linn State and the NCAA’s ability to still continue testing for non-performance enhancing drugs doesn’t do much to help close that gap. Am I advocating that college’s drug test students? Nope, if it were up to me students shouldn’t even be punished for having certain substances. But what I am saying is that issues such as these become problematic, confusing, and vague when bodies such as the NCAA have more pull than the actual universities that allow them to govern.