Crack is Whack: FCD and Educated Decisions

One of the students in my dorm came back from his required FCD (Freedom from Chemical Dependency) workshop the other night, and when I asked him how it was, he said, “Well, at least now I know not to do crack.” You just learned this tonight? I mean, if you don’t know by the time you’re an Upper at Phillips Academy not to smoke crack cocaine, you just might be in the wrong place. Still, the school does its best to keep its students healthy and certainly means well. At many public schools, the cornerstone of the anti-drug education program is teaching that all drugs and alcohol users are inherently bad, and the only “right thing to do” is report your friends who may have had a few beers or smoked an occasional joint. Who cares if this keeps them out of Harvard or ruins their reputation in the community? A black and white education on drug and alcohol abuse is not education, it is rhetoric. Andover’s policy is much more sane, as it takes into account the specifics of individual situations. Calling Sanctuary allows students to get help for themselves or their friends confidentially, and FCD week encourages kids to make educated decisions rather than labeling those who try illicit substances as inherently “bad.” The school sensibly realizes that kids will be kids and that Andover students are generally smart enough to make good decisions. That’s not to say there aren’t occasional problems; last year’s State of the Academy survey conducted by The Phillipian reported that 51% of respondents had consumed alcohol (without their parents present), and last winter there were over 30 students DC’d or placed on Sanctuary for drinking. In most cases, however, these students were not consuming dangerous quantities of alcohol, but just had the misfortune of getting caught. If students are going to experiment with drugs and alcohol, which I believe they will regardless of how draconian the rules are, they should at least know what they are getting themselves into, and that is the real value of FCD week. Some students might say, “FCD week just makes me want to do drugs even more,” after hearing stories from their workshops. Whether or not they’re serious, that might not be such a bad thing. The beauty of the typical Andover student is that he or she is inquisitive and does not take everything as an unequivocal dogma. The school is acknowledging our maturity by providing us with the tools to make better more educated decisions, and this is the only way we will learn. Editor-in-Chief Steve Blackman writes periodically on issues affecting the Andover community. His conclusions are his own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Phillipian Editorial Board.