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The Role of Campus Safety: Are They Keeping Us Safe?

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Josh Goldsmith

Staff Writer

In a college community, every person makes a difference. Each and every one of us has a role and responsibility to Roanoke College; the kitchen staff provides us with food, teachers are responsible for our academics, and students have the huge responsibility of making RC what we want it to be. But the one campus organization that has the most responsibility of all is undoubtedly Campus Security. Their job day in and day out is to ensure the safety of the RC community as a whole, which is no easy task. One of the largest threats, if not the largest threat to our community is alcohol abuse.

Nearly every weekend I have witnessed paramedics rush dangerously intoxicated students to the hospital. But still marijuana possession seems to be more of a priority to Campus Security. There are innumerable published studies that scientifically prove that alcohol is far more dangerous than marijuana, and that marijuana is really quite innocuous. If marijuana is so harmless, especially when compared to alcohol why is Campus Security pursuing marijuana users so vehemently? Furthermore, why is Campus Security jeopardizing the safety of RC marijuana users by turning them into Salem PD as criminal offenders? Is Campus Security really keeping us safe?

  No matter where you are from, what your political beliefs are or what your stance is on marijuana, it has been proven by American scientists over and over again that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol. Marijuana is less addictive than a cup of coffee, it does not cause cancer (in fact it may lead to cures for certain types of cancer), and it cannot in any way shape or form kill you. If marijuana were really a danger, we would be bombarded with anti-marijuana ads, and statistical evidence that people are “victims” of marijuana use, just as we are overloaded with anti-tobacco and alcohol campaigns. But really, the only victims from marijuana use are the unlucky few who are caught because they are instantly labeled as criminals. Nearly every president of the United States has admitted to using marijuana at least once in their lives, many of whom did so during their college years. What if George W. Bush had been caught smoking a joint by the police when he was 18? He never would have been able to run for public office because he would have had a criminal record (some may argue that we would be better off if this was the case).

 After an interview with Officer English (some of you lucky few may have had the pleasure of meeting him) he informed me that Campus Safety has an agreement with Salem PD to turn over all criminal offenders to be prosecuted. I asked him whether he thought that this agreement was incriminating the RC student population that uses marijuana, and in turn jeopardizes their safety. As I expected, English assured me that students who break the law are incriminating themselves. I did not expect a Campus Security officer to understand that marijuana use is an inevitable issue in our society, and that the issue I was questioning him about was whether Campus Security was keeping us safe or not, but it was worth a try. However, Head of Campus Security Tom Turner, felt differently. I said very bluntly to Turner that I felt that Campus Security was not keeping students safe by sending them to Salem PD, he in no way disputed my claim, and in fact said that our society may have to “come to terms” with marijuana use. If the Head of Campus Security agrees that his own officers are jeopardizing the safety of RC students, why is this still an issue?

 No matter how hard Campus Security tries, they will never be able to stop marijuana users from toking up. As I have stated before, it is inevitable, drug use will never go away.  Prohibition does not work; drug use is a societal and ethical issue, not a legal one. It is imperative for Campus Security to understand this because they have such a strong presence at RC, which is ok! I am not here to say: Campus Security go away. I am here to say: Campus Security, it is your responsibility to keep us safe, not to incriminate us. Please do not send any more students to Salem PD. Let Roanoke College discipline their students in their own jurisdiction, not Salem PD.