Linn State Technical College became the first public institution of higher learning to implement mandatory drug testing of all new students and all those returning from extended leaves of absence, flying in the face of the Fourth Amendment.
Courts only allow school administrators to drug test students under limited circumstances and is usually restricted to those students participating in sports or other activities. But those cases have only looked at drug testing of public high school students — not adults entering public colleges and universities.
Linn State didn’t implement this policy because it believes it has a student body with a higher drug rate than other colleges. In fact, the school stated publicly that they don’t think they have a higher student rate of drug use than other colleges, but that their policy is designed to prepare students for the real world of employee drug testing.
But if the goal was simply to prepare students, couldn’t that be accomplished in a much less intrusive manner, say by simply educating their students.
Students will have to bear the cost of being drug tested. The $50 test appears as a fine for new students. If the test comes back negative students will be reimbursed. If the results are positives the college then charges $35 for an online drug education program. Students may be forced to leave because of a drug test and may not have their tuition reimbursed.
The idea of specific, individualized suspicion before a search is about as core a constitutional principal as we have in this country. Yet the right is doing its best to make sure that applies only to the very rich. Can you imagine a similar policy proposed at Harvard?
Photo from Francis Storr via flickr.