Mandatory Drug Testing at Missouri College Stirs Fierce Debate

The decision by a public college in Missouri to require drug testing of all students has stirred a fierce debate, according to The New York Times.

Linn State Technical College instituted the policy following the recommendation of community businesses likely to hire the school’s students. If a student’s drug test is positive, he or she will meet with a counselor, and can participate in an online substance abuse program. The student is then required to take a second scheduled test and a third random test. If both subsequent tests are negative, the student can continue to be enrolled at the school and all test results are destroyed at the end of the semester.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have sued on behalf of several students. They have won a temporary injunction, the newspaper reports. College officials insist the drug testing is legal. A hearing on the case is scheduled for October 25.

The drug test screens for cocaine; amphetamines and methamphetamines; marijuana; opiates; PCP; benzodiazepines; barbiturates; methadone; methaqualone; propoxyphene; and oxycodone.

According to Kent Brown, Linn State’s lawyer, about 540 out of the school’s 1,200 students have been tested so far. All incoming freshmen and any students who had not been enrolled for a semester were tested. He says no students have refused to take the test so far.

Brown explains any student who refuses to take a drug test would be administratively withdrawn from the school, unless they successfully petition the school’s president not to participate.

“The student body at Linn State is very different from, for example, the University of Missouri or Harvard or some place like that,” he said. “We are a technical college.” He noted many students are in training programs that deal with high-voltage electricity, heavy equipment operations, or dangerous chemicals.

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    October 11, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    If the detractors of this policy visited the Linn State campus to see what the students there are learning and using as stated in the final paragraph of the story, they may understand the motivation behind, and the need, for the drug testing policy. It’s a health and safety issue, plain and simple.

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    Steve Boykin

    October 11, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    As an employee in the health profession, I have been drug tested many times, both as a condition of employment and at random intervals. I was once injured on the job, taken for emergency care, and immediately sent for a drug test. If it had come up positive, I would have been terminated and my claim denied. I have NEVER objected because I have always wanted to be in a workplace that was functioning well, and not with fellow employees who are in a drug-induced stupor. Students need to get a dose of reality NOW, while they can correct their illegal behavior, before they apply for a great job and lose it due to a positive drug test.

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