If you have roamed the campus on a Thursday night, you may have observed many of Parkside’s thirsty party animals, and then walked past the repercussions of their night on the stairs the next morning.
If you used to frequent outside of Ranger Hall at the beginning of the semester, you may have been familiar with the group of hookah smokers who would sit outside and gladly pass their pipe to each other and any passing pedestrians.
And, you may have seen, smelled, or heard about this year’s marijuana busts in the woods, parking lots and residence halls.
The consumption of alcohol and the use of drugs are prevalent trends in young adults, and the degree to which each individual uses their substances of choice varies from person to person. Some students see the college campus as a place to exercise their freedom, and they further advocate their actions with excuses such as “I still get my work done.”
However, to many of the students living on campus, the amount of police and residence hall activity regarding the drug problem seems to be excessive and frequent.
Does Parkside have a drug problem, or has the enforcement on campus cracked down? Who is to blame? Students who chose to participate in illegal activities need to be prepared to face any medical and legal consequences that result from their choices. But are the resident hall advisors or police over stepping any boundaries?
Statistics show that in 2000, Parkside Police cited 86 students for underage drinking, 14 for possession of marijuana and 8 students for possession of drug paraphernalia, compared to 2005, when there were 113 underage drinking citations, 16 marijuana citations and 10 possession citations.
The Parkside Police Officers insist that they have not gone out of their ways to write citations this year in comparison to years prior. The police admit to patrolling slightly more this year, but they do so for safety purposes on nights following major dances and events. They also admit to cracking down slightly harder on the upper classmen at the beginning of each year, while trying not to be too hard on freshmen until they have adjusted to college life.
“A lot of the younger students who are not yet 21 are still learning their limits as far as drinking, and that has created some problems in the past,” said Ranger Hall director Eric Edwards.
During both this semester and previous semesters, drug related citations have been issued for underage drinking, possession of marijuana and for possession of drug related paraphernalia.
There have not been issues with any hard drugs or hallucinogens at Parkside. In the past, prescription drug arrests have been few, and only occur around finals.
“Prescription pills are not a huge problem, but around finals time we tend to find people with Ritalin, Adderall, and other forms of ADD medications that do not belong to them. Students need to realize that the possession of prescription pills that do not belong to them is considered a felony,” said Officer Kelly.
An emerging problem this semester, however, is a new drug called K2. K2 is a synthetic form of marijuana that is not yet illegal in Wisconsin. The problem with this synthetic cannabinoid lies in its unidentifiable attributes. Dealers can lace almost anything into the drug, and the consumers may never know exactly what they put into their bodies.
Another issue arises when students soak and cut the cannabis themselves, using harmful chemicals, including acetone and other chemicals found in rat poison. The effects can be critical, and the danger associated with the drug is not a result from the marijuana, but from the poisonous toxins. Students at Parkside have experienced seizures and have needed immediate medical attention after smoking K2 this semester.
“We have had to rush students to the hospital,” said Officer Kelly. “Since it is not illegal, we cannot do anything about it. It is one of our biggest concerns.”
“We do not know its long term effects,” said Edwards. “It has definitely been one of the biggest issues on campus this semester,”
Although the police are responsible for writing the citations, they are not always directly involved in what students consider “busts.” Residence advisors are responsible for patrolling the halls and keeping their floors safe, serving as the medium between the students and the police. Students often blame the RAs for getting them into trouble; however, the RAs are trained to look out for the safety of the students, and they have a legal obligation to fulfill.
“A residence advisor’s job is to ensure safety and provide guidance,” said Edwards. “They only involve the police if they do not feel safe handling a situation on their own,”
Moreover, the residence hall advisors and Parkside Police believe that they are adhering to the responsibilities of their jobs and looking out for the safety of the students. While it seems to be a popular belief that law enforcers and RAs are on power trips and are just waiting for an opportunity to ruin the residents’ days, this is simply not the case. The RAs and peer health mediators hold various functions throughout the year to educate students on drug and alcohol abuse. Functions have included the Drunk Buggie Simulation, simulated rescues by the Somer’s Police, The Jaws of Life, and root beer keg parties.
It is through these programs that the campus encourage students to abide by the law. Students need to take full responsibility for what they bring on to the school campus and, most importantly, for what they put into their bodies.