Michael Weiss, a freshman who majored in business, is remembered as friendly and compassionate by his friends. He was raised in a zero-tolerance environment at Francis Parker High School in San Diego.
When Weiss came to USC last fall, his older brother, Justin Weiss, told the Daily Trojan that Michael “worked himself hard to get good grades.” But when he was found dead in his dorm room people began to question the effectiveness of a zero-tolerance policy.
Weiss wasn’t the first, and will not be the last student to get involved in substance abuse incidents. In fact just three days prior to his death, a mass e-mail was sent to USC students warning of a new zero tolerance policy.
“All instances of any misconduct will be dealt with swiftly and harshly,” the e-mail read. “All violations can result in permanent consequences for your academic career.”
Some are wondering if this is really the best way to handle drug abuse on campus. Such security-oriented policies seem to do little to prevent those who want to use drugs.
But why is it that drug abuse is so prevalent among students? CASA (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse) chairman Joseph Califano, Jr. says that frequent boredom and too much money drive large numbers of teenagers to use drugs.
“Kids that had more than $25 a week actually in spending money were twice as likely to get involved in substances as kids who had less than $25 a week to spend,” offers Califano, Jr. “And kids with more than 50 bucks a week, which is 15 percent of our population of 12 to 17-year-olds were at very high risk.”
Considering these statistics, the “University of Spoiled Children” must be swarming with students who are spending Mommy and Daddy’s money on drugs. Imagine if every USC student caught for smoking weed was punished under the full extent of the law. Before you know it, USC’s nickname would quickly change to the “University of Suspected Criminals,” which is why the administration has decided to punish students themselves, instead of turning them over to the Los Angeles Police Department.
So what are we to do? Parents need to be more aware of how their children are spending their money. They also need to work with teachers and students to put an end to the deadly threat of ignorance.
If naïve kids are walking out of high school and onto college campuses, then they’re bound to get hurt. The university already tries to take precaution by making all students complete AlcoholEdu, a Web-based, alcohol prevention program, prior to arriving on campus. But in all honesty, students are going to keep using drugs regardless of these efforts.
Next time you get ready to smoke a joint, why don’t you try hitting the books instead? Your parents are paying good money for you to go to college and learn. Try it some day.