By Meghan Adams
If you are living on campus you have most likely seen the new posters plastered with marijuana plants and beer bottles hung up in the residence halls and the Pryz.
Even those who are living off campus may be wondering what the passing of Initiative 71, also known as the marijuana legality law, in the District of Columbia means for CUA students.
Each school year brings changes and this year efforts have been made to change the way in which the University enforces the drug and alcohol policy and reform its disciplinary actions.
Under D.C. law the possession of up to 2 oz. of marijuana, 6 marijuana plants, and any sort of paraphernalia is legal for those over the age of 21, in a private residence. This new law also permits the distribution of the drug to those also over 21, so long as there is no monetary transaction for the drug. However, Federal Law still prohibits the recreational use of marijuana for persons of all ages. Since the University follows all federal laws, any student enrolled at Catholic University is not allowed to grow, possess or use any drugs declared illegal by the federal government, regardless if the student is using the drug on campus or not.
Both the alcohol and drug penalties at Catholic University are broken up into different levels of severity, ranging from fines, education classes, assessments, suspension, or expulsion. The Dean of Students office has been making changes to the way in which they respond to these infractions, shifting the focus from punishment to seize the opportunity for education.
In past years the penalty for possession or consumption of alcohol by those under the age of 21 resulted in a hefty fine. Under the new regulations the fines for alcohol related incidents have been lessened. The reason being that fines eclipse the educational aspect, which is the objective of Assistant Dean of Students, Stephanie Davey and Assistant Director of Student Conduct and Ethical Development, Desmond Daniels.
The emphasis is to educate students by initiating a dialogue about the short and long term consequences of their decisions. Dean Davey stresses that the office is there to offer “care and support.”
The Good Samaritan program, also known as Medical Amnesty, is also a fairly recent change in student conduct procedures. Since its inception nearly a year ago 100% of students who have entered the program have successfully completed it. The purpose of the program is to ensure that students are not too scared of getting in trouble that they hesitate to call for help when it is needed.
The program ensures that students who call an RA, Community Director, DPS or EMS in an effort to receive help for themselves or a friend who is under the influence are immune to any disciplinary action. In exchange for a clean record, the students must complete an educational program, which is specifically geared to their circumstances.
Despite the multitude of posters that broadcast the school’s policy, many students still seem to not fully understand what the changes mean and are hesitant to believe that administration will hold up their end of the deal.
However, senior and third year Resident Assistant Jean Lee feels that her residents are now safer than ever with the Good Samaritan program in effect.
“People should really be using it because it really is there to help them,” said Lee.