School expulsion policies should be upheld

June 2, 2009 — by Emily Chen

By now, most students have probably heard of the expulsion and suspension of several students around campus for drug-related issues. The expulsion of one student in particular for dealing drugs on campus has sparked an outrage among some, and even stirred students to create an online petition that was widely circulated on Facebook, asking the administration to reconsider their decision.

There are two sides to every issue, and especially in cases such as these, when many students are personally connected with the implicated individuals, feelings of indignation and anger tend to tint the views of those considering the situation. The bottom line, however, is that these students broke the rules, and quite egregiously at that.

While it is extremely unfortunate that the administration had to take such drastic measures, the line must be drawn somewhere. Pleas of “give them a break” and “it was one mistake” have some legitimacy, but the wide scale of the drug problem, in conjunction with the fact that they were in possession of drugs while on campus, don’t lend to much mercy.

While the methods of the administration were harsh and perhaps uncalled for, it is also true that students really have no rights to privacy while on school grounds. Therefore common sense dictates that they refrain from doing drugs while on school grounds.

Expulsion and suspension are undoubtedly harsh punishments, but if the administration “goes easy” on the students and gives them a lighter punishment, it eliminates the purpose of having such a deterrence in the first place. If the administration allows a petition to work for one student, then a dangerous precedent is set, and they will feel obligated to allow it for future students, blurring the line and further complicating the situation. It also bears the danger of becoming a popularity contest — if one student happens to have more friends, or be a prominent figure on campus, they would have more petition signatures and make the playing field even more uneven.

For a relatively quiet school like Saratoga, where there is obviously a lack of violence and weapon use, there aren’t many crimes that would call for such a punishment. So if dealing drugs isn’t enough to call for an expulsion, what is?

While it’s understandable that students feel their privacy has been invaded, and that the administration is overreacting because “everybody does it,” from the point of view of school officials, they were simply fulfilling their duty to protect students. The grounds for expulsion and suspension are clearly stated in the student handbook, and more importantly (because most people don’t actually read the student handbook) should be a part of common sense. Drug use may be rampant, but it is also illegal, and therefore the students should be able to deduce for themselves through common sense the consequences of getting caught.

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