Student questions sanction for dealing drugs

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Public safety cars outside Hugel Science Center. (Lauren Fox ’19)

Ian Morse

A Lafayette senior was suspended this week after public safety discovered marijuana in his room.

But for him, he says, the punishment is more than just a suspension. The student, who wishes to remain anonymous because the case is not public, said his family’s situation at home means that the delay of his degree may effect his family of seven with only one source of income.

Several sources said an anonymous tip led public safety to the student’s room, where he said they found about 14 ounces of marijuana and charged the student within the college with intent to deliver.

There is an appeal process, but he claims it’s not worth the hassle. According to him, the college conduct appeal process is too bureaucratic. Because he admitted to the charge, his only grounds for appeal, which must be given in writing and state the justification, would be for an inappropriate sanction, as outlined by the student handbook.

Having studied almost four years to become the family’s first college graduate, he must now move back with his family and delay finding a job with his degree. He said people like him from his hometown may never return to college.

Even though he doesn’t receive a full scholarship, he said he receives more financial aid in a year than his father makes in a year. That is, before his father recently became unemployed and suffered a heart attack.

At that point, money he was making from dealing grew more important to him. He claims that his profits went directly to pay a “variety of bills” back home. If his family asked where the money came from, he said he would lie about the source. If the student returns after his suspension, he is unsure whether his financial aid will be covered.

In deciding a sentence, the conduct committee considers the effect of keeping the student on campus. A simple majority vote from the seven members of the student conduct committee decides the sanction. At the most extreme, a student can be expelled or suspended for an extended period of time. Disciplinary probation, at its most severe, would prevent the student from representing the college in any way off campus.

“The conduct process does have the option to remove people from campus,” Director of Student Conduct Jennifer Dize said. “If it rises to the level where a committee or an individual hearing officer feels that someone is a significant danger to the community, they have the ability to remove them – even for a set period of time or permanently.”

No criminal charges have been filed against the student, but Dize said that even if the college were to find drugs in a case, bringing them to court is more tricky.

“If we go in under a dean’s search, we wouldn’t pursue it criminally, because we didn’t have permission to be in the room or a search warrant,” Dize said. The office of public safety would be the one to lodge criminal charges, but cases are sometimes kept internal.

“There are times in these cases when we will not file criminal charges,” Associate Director of Public Safety Jim Meyer said. “And that based on how we come to that conclusion that, in this case, possessing drugs, or distributing drugs.”

Public safety said there is still an active investigation into the reports of possession and intent to deliver. Last week they said multiple cases were being investigated.

Kathryn Kelly ’19 contributed reporting.