A Sober Student Body?

The new drug/alcohol policies are the talk of the town, but what’s really going on?

Emma+Fischer+and+Courtney+Abt

Emma Fischer and Courtney Abt

Bennett Brase

By now, the new random drug and alcohol testing policies aren’t news to anyone. Everyone seems to have an opinion on it–whether it’s a strong one or not–but the fact is, the policies are set in stone. These random tests are happening next year, and it’s something all opposers are going to have to deal with.

St. Dominic has always been one of the few schools that didn’t perform random drug tests. Nearly all public schools do them, and most of the bigger private schools like CBC do them as well, although those are mostly restricted to athletes. So why are we starting now, not only with drug testing, but alcohol testing as well?

“This isn’t a ‘gotcha’ type thing; this is a wellness thing. We simply want our students to be making the right choices. That’s why there are no school-related consequences the first time you test positive; we just want to make sure students and their parents get better educated about drugs and alcohol. We also want this to serve as a deterrent. If people don’t want to get caught, they won’t do anything wrong. We know that socialization is important among young people, and it’s important that students learn and grow in the social aspect of life while they’re in high school. This gives students a chance to go to parties and social gatherings without partaking in drugs and alcohol,” said school president Ms. Fetter.

No matter the reason, students are fired up about it on both sides of the spectrum.

“I think the tests are a good thing,” said senior Courtney Abt. “It is illegal, so why is everyone claiming that this is an injustice? The school wants our partying reputation to go away, and this is the way to do it. I understand that kids are kids and they just want to have fun, but this is the right thing to do. Plus, a lot of employers perform drug tests, so this is just a way of preparing kids for the future.”

However, students that will actually be affected by the policies next year tend to have a different outlook on it.

“It’s simply an invasion of privacy,” says junior Emma Fischer. “School is school. If you want to screw up your life outside of school, that’s your own choice. You come to school to learn. If you’re learning in school, why does it matter what you’re doing outside of the school? They don’t own you.”

The general consensus among people is that the drug tests are A-OK but the alcohol tests are where the problem comes in (a possible indication of the true colors of the student body?). Of course, students are angered by the fact that a decent chunk of their hair has to be taken out in order to be tested, and the fact that carrying out these tests will cost $3,000 a year has been deemed a little ridiculous by some. Still, anyone who opposes these new policies is going to have a rough time next year because there’s really nothing that he or she can do about it.

Some have even gone so far as to say that this will deter kids from coming here or even cause kids to leave. The reality is, that’s just not going to happen. Enough schools already do these kinds of tests, so an incoming student would be hard-pressed to find another school choice just based on their love of consequence-free partying. Also, does anyone really think that there would be enough parents on board to let their kid switch schools just because of new drug policies? It’s very unlikely. Don’t get me wrong, there’s undoubtedly going to be a big atmosphere of change once these policies come into play.

“Obviously I would love for every kid we test to come up clean, but that’s just me being naive,” said Ms. Fetter. “I know kids will test positive, and I guess we’ll just deal with that when the time comes.”

St. Dominic has made several moves toward a more conservative set of policies in the last few years, but for some, these new testing policies are the icing on the fed up cake. Let me ask you something, though: does it really matter? Once you graduate, you’re an adult, and you’re “free” to make the choices that you want. The school doesn’t own you, but you are here for 4 years, so you’re subject to whatever new rules come into play–unless you’re one of the hypothetical leavers, of course, in which case I wish you good luck in your “noble” pursuits.