Exeter to Discuss Possibility of Drug Testing

According to a recent article in The Exonian, Phillips Exeter Academy faculty and administrators will discuss the possibility of implementing mandatory drug and alcohol testing for students. Exeter has decided that, if this policy were to be established, only those students the faculty suspects of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol would be tested. Exeter Student Body President George Stern ’06 believes that drug testing would not be the most effective way to keep students off drugs. He said, “A lot of students use drugs or drink because they have nothing else to do. If there were more activities, it would keep them busy on weekend nights….Students would have more fun and stay safer, without invading their privacy.” Currently, a number of PA’s peer schools have some form of drug testing. Some, such as St. Sebastian’s and St. Paul’s Schools, randomly test students with past histories of drug use or students suspected to be currently under the influence. Other boarding schools, however, randomly test all students. Schools with drug testing policies cite the testing as a deterrent for students contemplating drug or alcohol use. St. Paul’s Dean of Students Douglas Dickson said, “We believe in the program as an effective deterrent, and I do not perceive any negative consequences.” Phillips Academy Dean of Students Marlys Edwards said that Andover has not considered implementing mandatory drug testing. She said, “The only time we do mandatory drug testing is when parents of students have asked us to do so…In my time at Phillips Academy, there’s only been a handful of kids in such a program.” Ms. Edwards did not foresee any discussion regarding the implementation of a drug testing policy at Andover taking place in the near future. She said that Andover’s current drug policy is adequate. Student responses to the idea of drug testing were mixed. Greg Feldmann ’05 said, “The only way students will stop drinking and getting high is if they do it voluntarily. Kids just aren’t going to listen to the administration.” Others believe that random drug tests will infringe on the student’s right to privacy. According to a 1995 United States Supreme Court decision, a school has the right to demand a urine sample from a student involved in extracurricular activities as long as the school can demonstrate a reasonable cause. As Andover is a private school, students and their parents sign consent forms before attending the school. Thus many of the rules that apply to public schools with compulsory attendance do not apply to Andover. “Andover and prep schools in general are different than any other school; therefore, there sometimes have to be exceptions,” said Andrew Richards ’05. He continued, “[Drug testing] might mean a little bit of privacy gone, but if it helps stops drug use, it’s OK.” Some students support drug testing to ensure the continued integrity of the community. “I think it’s not a bad idea. Kids who don’t do drugs have nothing to fear…and those who do get what’s coming to them. Granted, you could say that it’s a violation of their rights, and that one’s school has no place in one’s personal life, but the fact is, by going to my school, you have to sign a contract saying you will abide by the guidelines and face the consequences which they’ve described,” said an anonymous Lower at St. Sebastian’s.