College students and alcohol–a classic stereotype. While prohibited at Fort Lewis College, the details around the drug and alcohol policy can be confusing.
“I know nothing about it,” Avery Wickes, a philosophy student at FLC, said.
Charlie Johann, an economics and philosophy major, stated he is not familiar with the policies, aside from the Zero Tolerance rule for athletics.
“I don’t know anything about it, but I do like that it’s a no-smoke campus,” said James, a student wishing to remain anonymous. “I have friends who got addicted in high school. It does cause a lot of issues.”
Despite the confusion, Madeleine Gillman, the compliance officer and deputy title IX coordinator, said she believes the school communicates the policies effectively.
In the residence halls, there are posters, floor meetings to discuss the policies and many online descriptions of the rules, she said.
“Part of going to college is being responsible for those things,” she said.
According to the FLC Student Conduct Policy, the unlawful use, possession, consumption, distribution or transportation of drugs or alcohol is strictly prohibited for enrolled students.
Students who are 21 and over and live in the Mears or Centennial apartments, are allowed to drink alcohol in the privacy of their room, said August Cox, a resident advisor in Cooper hall.
Marijuana, however, is not allowed anywhere on campus, according to August Cox, a resident advisor in Cooper hall.
Fort Lewis College is a federally funded institute and therefore can’t allow a federally controlled substance on campus, Cox said.
While the housing guide is reviewed every year, Gillman said that drug and alcohol policies fulfill their purpose, and are not changed frequently.
So how are these policies enforced?
Gillman and Cox both said that the school practices restorative justice.
Restorative justice seeks to support the student involved in conduct instead of punishment, Cox said.
“I would rather catch you drinking, than y’all drink and drive and hurt someone or yourselves,” Cox said.
Typically, when students are caught with drugs or alcohol, they will dispose of the substances and then be referred to peer consultation, Cox said.
Amaris Hamilton, a psychology and philosophy major attending FLC, said students trained in peer consultation will interview other students to help ease the discussion around substance abuse.
Hamilton has taken Motivational Interviewing, a psychology class that trains peer counselors to inspire motivation already within students.
While not guaranteed to solve the problem, Gillman says that she has only heard good things about peer consultation.
Additionally, there are a number of other resources available to students looking to break the stigma on substance abuse, Gillman said.
A new program, Accountability Workshops, is aimed at any student who might need further assistance, she said.
“Students can really use that time to think about whatever parts of their life they want to practice having accountability for,” she said.
Additional resources can be accessed through the counseling center on campus, Gillman said.
While suspensions and housing removals are possible for drug and alcohol violations, Gillman said that these are rarely considered, and are used for very egregious violations, such as violating the policies more than three or four times.
It is a difficult balance, but the school prioritizes safety above all else, said Gillman.
“People shouldn’t be disciplined for doing just what young adults are going to do,” Cox said.
Some students might view the policies as invasive or unnecessary, but the intentions behind the policies are in place to allow a safe and welcoming community, Cox said.