Should MCPS drug test athletes and club members?

Oct. 4, 2002, midnight | By L.A. Holmes | 18 years, 3 months ago

L.A. Holmes says YES: Drug contracts are insufficient

The Tecumseh, Oklahoma, School District far from set a precedent in 1995 when it started requiring students to pass a drug test before they could participate in extracurricular activities. The Supreme Court has regularly ruled that students must sacrifice a few freedoms to enjoy a safer school environment. Now, with the backing of the nation's highest court, MCPS should take decisive steps to enforce its zero tolerance drug policy and require urine tests for all participants in athletic and extracurricular activities.

The majority opinion of the Supreme Court is that such a measure "is a reasonable means of furthering the school district's important interest in preventing and deterring drug use among its schoolchildren." A preventative step of this nature is key to ensuring that our schools are drug free, and it would be the first real proactive attempt to discourage drug use among students.

Blair students agree that the contract athletes must sign, pledging not to use alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs, is insufficient. In an informal Silver Chips survey of 100 Blazers during the week of Sept 9, 89 percent said the drug contract is not a substantial deterrent of drug use.

MCPS must also be aggressive in ridding its athletic programs of performance-enhancing drugs. While opponents of the drug testing policy believe athletes are unfairly targeted as potential users, the fact remains that performance-enhancing drugs like anabolic steroids are used exclusively by athletes, not by casual drug users. Such abuse can cause sports teams to forfeit wins, levying unfortunate consequences on unwitting teammates.

Though athletes are the most visible group affected, policies like Tecumseh's apply to all extracurricular club members. Students who publicly represent the school must be held to a high standard of conduct. Because no drug contract is currently required of club members, there is no way to ensure that students are representing their schools honorably.

Opponents of the Supreme Court decision argue that drug testing violates civil rights. But cases like New Jersey v. T.L.O., which all students study in government class, set the precedent that schools have a higher vested interest in ensuring that students are not harming themselves or others than in preserving students' civil liberties. Civil rights are in far greater jeopardy when schools, as they do now, use the precept of "reasonable suspicion" and factors like race and socioeconomic standing to profile students they deem at risk for drug abuse.

The truth is that students who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear. Catching even one drug user is worth the momentary embarrassment of 100 students taking and passing a urinalysis. If a school can identify a student's drug problem with solid evidence instead of blanket at-risk profiling, the school can be much more effective at helping that student before his or her one-time positive becomes an addiction.

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L.A. Holmes. L.A. Holmes is a SENIOR!! ('03 Baby!) in the Communication Arts Program. L.A. currently reigns as Managing Opinions and Editorials Editor of <i>Silver Chips</i> with her dear friend, Rachel Yood, and she is the first in <i>Silver Chips</i> history to hold the hotly contested and … More »

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