Should MCPS drug test athletes and club members?

Oct. 4, 2002, midnight | By Anna Schoenfelder | 18 years, 3 months ago

Anna Schoenfelder says NO: Testing violates rights

Every year in government class, Blazers learn one of the core principles of our legal system: every American is innocent until proven guilty. A recent Supreme Court decision, however, teaches a new lesson—that upstanding students can be forced to take humiliating tests to prove their innocence. Now it is up to MCPS officials to keep drug testing out of Montgomery County schools. Drug testing of students who participate in extracurricular activities is invasive and ineffective, and it violates students' basic constitutional rights.

Drug testing innocent students shows flagrant disregard for their dignity and fosters distrust between students and administrators. And despite the Supreme Court ruling otherwise, a drug testing policy violates students' Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

Proponents of the Supreme Court's ruling argue that students who obey the school's rules have nothing to fear. Using this logic, the government could break into and search your house, read your emails and tap your phone line without prior evidence of any wrongdoing. As to the argument that students can expect abridged rights, the Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines establishes that students can expect a reasonable level of Constitutional protection.

According to an informal Silver Chips poll of 100 Blair students conducted on Sept 10, 78 percent of Blazers oppose a policy of drug testing. Most of those opposed cited "invasion of privacy" as the reason for their choice. But the policy is not only unfavorable to students; it is also an ineffective way to deal with the nation's drug problem.

Students who are active after school are among the least likely to participate in illegal drug use, according to William Bailey, professor of Applied Health Science at Indiana University. These students simply have less time after school to do drugs. If a policy of drug testing were implemented in Montgomery County, current light drug users would avoid extracurricular activities. Ironically, this could lead to an increase in drug use. Schools should instead encourage at-risk students to participate in afterschool activities, where they can be assured a positive, drug-free environment.

Furthermore, drug tests are expensive. A standard test costs around $30 for each student. For such a high cost, says the American Civil Liberties Union, the tests are miserably insufficient. They fail to detect many drugs—including alcohol, the drug of choice among teenagers. Nor does the typical drug test identify the use of steroids, which are the only drugs used exclusively by athletes. Tests designed to detect steroids cost upwards of $100 for each athlete.

If MCPS officials are serious about fighting drugs in schools, they will spend those thousands of dollars on preventative measures rather than waste them on an unproductive policy that tramples students' so-called inalienable rights.

Anna Schoenfelder. 04 real. Anna is a j-j-j-junior in CAP. She has a litterbox and it is very green. Her favorite activities include spinning, agitating, and mincing. She feels very prickly about the stirrup that she owns. She hopes one day to taste very good, and perhaps … More »

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