College Drug Testing
Although drug testing for college admission seems fairly controversial, when it comes to testing college students in athletic programs, the US Supreme Court found that random drug testing for college athletes, or any competitive activity, did not infringe on the students’ privacy.
Drug Testing for College Admissions
Drug testing in colleges is not particularly a new thing; in 1990, the NCAA instituted a year-round drug testing program in an effort to “protect the health and safety of student- athletes. Linn State Technical College in the state of Missouri introduced mandatory drug testing.
The goal of the college, ostensibly, was to ‘prepare students for profitable employment and a life of learning.” The question was whether the college had the legal right to enforce such a policy. The ACLU said “no,” filing a lawsuit against the college for violating the Fourth Amendment of the students. The Fourth Amendment protects us against unreasonable search and seizure.
While the implementation of drug testing at Linn State Technical College has been deemed “extreme” by some, and “unconstitutional,” by others, from the students’ point of view it can feel very much as though they are being treated like criminals. Colleges considering a similar move should instead think about implementing voluntary drug testing.
Colleges might also consider offering classes that educate students about drug use dangers while outlining procedures employers may take regarding employee drug testing. In this particular case, the courts found that students should never be required to sacrifice their constitutional rights in furtherance of their educational goals.
Yet despite this Missouri ruling, Dallas College states that “drug screening is conducted on all student applicants prior to acceptance…a positive drug screen that is confirmed positive will bar admission to the program for a minimum of 12 months. This drug policy has, apparently, not been challenged. Drug testing for college admission is, fortunately, fairly rare.
Drug Testing for College Athletes
Although drug testing for college admission seems fairly controversial, when it comes to testing college students in athletic programs, the United States Supreme Court found that random drug testing for college athletes—or any competitive activity—did not infringe on the students’ privacy. The working theory is that those students who feel drug testing for competitive activities is invasive are the same students that may be unable to pass a drug test.
Whether this is true has not really been studied to any degree, however, the actual number of drug-tested college athletes that tested positive is less than 16 percent. In fact, according to NCEERA reports, substance abuse among college students has significantly decreased over the past ten years. The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) believes drug testing—along with specific anti-drug programs—supports their college athletes.
The legalization of marijuana in many states—and the possibility of federal legalization—could further complicate the issue. Many students may even have a medical marijuana card, yet they can be banned from participation in their sport when they receive a positive drug test. The NCAA and the Big Ten usually only randomly test student-athletes for marijuana use during an NCAA tournament or the Big Ten championships.
Typically, college athletes are randomly tested at least every other week. Students chosen for the random test are given only 12 hours notification prior to the test—and if they don’t show up, it is counted as a positive test result. A positive result can mean no more sports for up to a year. For additional information on this subject and more, see our website.