Think back to when you first applied for college. You probably applied to a few colleges, and were maybe not accepted to all of them, but you ultimately chose Illinois State for one reason or another. Now imagine that admissions process being made even more complicated by adding in drug testing before official acceptance.
Last month, a small Missouri technical school’s drug policy was ruled unconstitutional. Prior to the ruling, Linn State Technical College required all applicants to take a drug test. According to an article in USA Today, many colleges want to take this approach to admissions as an effort to prevent drug use.
One of the main reasons colleges want to implement drug testing is to combat the growing problem with molly, or MDMA. However, this could be difficult, even if the courts deem drug testing constitutional in the future. Certain drugs stay in people’s systems longer than others, and the concern with molly is one that cannot necessarily be solved with drug testing. This especially varies with the type of drug testing such as urine, hair or blood samples.
But will these drug tests even prevent drug use? According to USA Today, most people say no. The article stated, “Thirty-four percent of students in high schools with drug testing programs said they would probably still use drugs in the future.” With a statistic such as this one, it makes sense to question whether or not a drug testing program at the college level would even help prevent drug use.
Furthermore, many drug tests only test for certain kinds of drugs. Would abused prescription drugs pop up on the screen? Or would the most prevalent drug to show up in the testing be marijuana, simply because it stays in the system longer? Considering that is not the drug most colleges are trying to combat, it seems somewhat unreasonable to have this drug show in tests, but not the “harder” drugs.
Another factor to consider is cost. If these drug-testing programs are most effective, they would require a hair or blood test instead of a urine sample, in order to more adequately determine drug use. However, these methods are all expensive. And especially so for schools like Linn State Technical College, that, according to its website, only has 1,176 students enrolled. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that these figures only represent the number of admitted students. Anyone who applied would need to undergo drug testing before admittance, so the number increases even more.
It can be reasonably presumed that drug testing is expensive. How would schools ensure that the students submitting drug tests were not cheating the system in some way or another? Plus, that money could go toward something else that the students and faculty could both use such as fixing buildings or adding more classes each semester since not every class is consistently offered. It just seems as though the schools who wish to institute such a method need to figure out more of a plan before proposing this big change to its admissions process.
Would drug-testing programs deter students from applying though? Or would students even care about the process?
ISU junior, graphic communication major, Jalen McAfee said, “I’m not going to advocate college drug testing applicants because I think the admission system is fine the way it is, but I also wouldn’t fault colleges for drug testing those applying.”
While it doesn’t seem as though drug-testing programs for colleges will be ruled constitutional anytime soon, it is still necessary to remember it could be a possibility in the future, whether it would work or not.