|Mandatory drug tests blocked at college|
|Written by Bobby Crossen, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Monday, 19 September 2011 21:21|
A federal judge issued a temporary injunction to prevent further analysis of mandatory drug tests for incoming freshmen at Linn State Technical College Sept. 14.
At the beginning of the 2011 fall semester, LSTC required all incoming freshmen and students returning after a semester of absence to comply to a mandatory drug test.
Tony Rothert, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in eastern Missouri, filed the injunction Wednesday afternoon on behalf of six students claiming the drug test infringed upon the students’ rights to privacy.
“Linn State is a public college, so they are the government, and they are restrained by the restrictions on the fourth amendment of conducting searches without a warrant,” Rothert said.
In a statement released Thursday, Linn State Technical College explained the purpose of the drug test was to prepare students for their careers. The comment states the college tried to include the ACLU in the process, and gave students opportunities for exclusion from the test.
“In the designing of the program, the college made every effort to protect the rights of students by providing for numerous levels of due process and allowing students who objected to the program to request to be excused from testing,” Linn State College’s legal statement said.
Missouri statutes established Linn State as a junior college, and in 1995, it became part of Missouri’s public higher education system. Since the college’s establishment, the case file states that no such policy has been implemented, nor have there been any sufficient causes to conduct drug tests.
Students were taken from classrooms and asked to comply to an eleven-panel urine test, Rothert said. The analysis tested for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, oxycodone and seven other drugs. Linn State charged students a non-refundable $50 fee to participate in the mandatory test, the case file states.
If a student refused to comply with the screening the result could be student initiated or administrative withdrawal from the university. Students who tested positive would have 45 days before a second screening.
Maria Moore, associate communications professor, said the drug test seems to come from an ethical standpoint that everyone is guilty until proven innocent.
“The only reason you do universal drug tests is if you believe you’ve got a widespread problem, so it starts with the presumption [that] you have to prove you’re not guilty by peeing in a cup,” Moore said.
Moore also said there is no legal precedence that empowers a public college to conduct searches in this way. Moore said she does not think the precedence will cause a sweeping change across America, nor will it stand up to a legal test.
“I think this is an anomaly, an institution who got creative based upon the perception of a problem, but I think they’re going to quickly regret their decision as they face the legal bills of facing off against the ACLU in court,” Moore said.
Rothert said the injunction will last three weeks, giving Linn State the opportunity to challenge the injunction.
“The ball is in their court as to whether or not we’re going to try to get a decision within the next 21 days or whether they agree to extend that until the court’s made their full decision on evidence,” Rothert said.