Drug arrests highlight larger on-campus problems nation-wide

When most university students checked their email on Feb. 15, they were probably expecting another lengthy TCU Announce or parking instruction announcement. What was not expected was a letter from Chancellor Victor Boschini letting the student body know that current and former university students had been arrested earlier that morning.

These 16 students and three former students had been charged with various drug-related felonies after a six-month investigation conducted by both the Fort Worth and TCU police.

The arrests led to a slew of media attention directed at this private, Christian university who had seen so many taken into custody; a group of students that represented several different colleges, organizations, greek chapters and even included four members from our nationally recognized football team.

The drug bust became huge news around campus and in the national media as word spread. News outlets and commentators used the bust to emphasize drug use in general on college campuses across the country.

These sources make it seem like so many arrested on drug-related charges is a huge shock that reveals a problem that had gone unrealized before.

However, this stretches reality quite a bit — hopefully no student, parent or professor is so naive as to imagine that drug use is not widespread on and around university grounds.
A 2007 study by the National Center On Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) found that almost half of America’s full-time college students abused drugs or binge drank alcohol at least once a month. CASA also reported that 61 percent of the students studied report that it would be “very easy” to obtain prescription drugs and that 77 percent alleged it would be “very” or “somewhat” simple to get marijuana on campus.

Tell these facts to the majority of students walking around campus any given day of the week and they will nod in acknowledgement, completely unsurprised.
Students are not actively reminded of drug use on a daily basis. Because the dangers and prevalence are not widely articulated by the university, it is easy to sweep drug use under a rug and forget about a problem most acknowledge as very real.

Then something dramatic like the recent drug bust at the university happens and reality is forced back to the forefronts of everybody’s minds. The university arrests didn’t create a shock because people could never imagine that such a thing would happen on a private, Christian campus.

The university is not alone in universities who associate in some form or fashion with drug culture. Not even close. The university just happens to be one of the few universities that has a police force willing to actually do its job and take on illegal activity and an administration willing to own up to the truth.

If that means that the university suffers some negative press for a little while, so be it. Now that the university has become a go-to reference for drugs on college campuses, it needs to strive to become the go-to reference for how to fix the problem of drugs on college campuses.

University administrators should strive to keep an open dialogue about drug use, ensuring that their students and employees recognize the very real consequences of certain illegal activities while also publicizing whatever services they offer to help students get out of their situation. (These services can be found at the offices of the TCU Alcohol and Drug Education Center on the basement level of the University Recreation Center.)

Hopefully our university’s experience was a wake up call to universities across the country about a serious issue that can no longer be swept under the rug. Drug abuse, drug dealing and drug distribution are illegal and often dangerously prevalent activities that have no place on a college campus.

Allana Wooley is a freshman anthropology and history double major from Marble Falls.

This article was corrected to show the most up-to-date number of arrests.