According to the Associated Press (AP), a Missouri college has a new, legally dubious policy of drug testing every single student.
A drug-free demand greeted new students Wednesday at Linn State Technical College, a two-year school in central Missouri that has enacted what may be the most far-reaching drug testing policy at a public college or university in the country.
Federal and state courts have consistently upheld more limited drug testing of public high schools students, such as those who play sports, as well as NCAA athletes and students at private colleges. But the move by Linn State to enact widespread drug tests of the general student body appears unprecedented…
Civil liberties fans raise an eyebrow:
"I've never heard of any other adult public educational institution that presumes to drug-test all of its students," said Columbia attorney Dan Viets, a member of the Missouri Civil Liberties Association. "They're trying to break some new ground here. I don't think the courts will uphold it."
Even though some Linn students study technical things where sobriety would surely be a plus, like working aircraft engines and nuclear reactors, the students studying math or humanities have to fall in line with the new policy as well. This lack of a narrow focus could potentially spell the policy's doom if a lawsuit happens, which Viets says will have to occur if the school goes ahead.
School administrators plead everybody in the workplace is doing it, so this is good preparation for students. Also, it's awesome:
"It does appear that our program is unique in its scope and breadth," said Kent Brown, a Jefferson City attorney who represents the 1,200-student school, which is located about 100 miles southwest of St. Louis. "But there aren't very many colleges as unique as ours."
The Rocky Mountain Collegian editorial board makes a sensible objection:
If we have gotten in some legal trouble and by law we are required to take drug tests, so be it. If we are applying for a job and they require a drug test, they have every right to test us and not hire us for being stoners, more power to them.
But if we are paying to attend a school, we have every right to be on whatever drugs we want and ruin our own chances of graduating. We are not paying to be treated like children or criminals.
The Collegian Editorial Board in no way supports drug use. However we do support students' rights to choose what state of mind they are in when they go to class. Yes it's stupid, and it's a waste of money ,but it's a right nonetheless.
Anyways, do you really need to be completely sober to attend a two-year technical school in Missouri?
Gawker adds that the one freshman quoted in the original AP story as saying the policy is "a good idea" is "some student narc."
Jacob Sullum on one of the ways drug tests can do worse than violate privacy.