I awoke this morning to three emails that all centered around a topic that I’ve covered on this blog before: drug use at Reed.  One was a memo from the Oregon US attorney and the Multnomah county DA, a second was a memo from our college president in response, and a third was a message from our student body president in response to the other two.  Interesting.

The Cliff’s Notes of the story is as follows:  Apparently, a student informant has made it abundantly clear to the DA’s office that Renn Fayre (our year-end party) will be a site of significant illegal drug use.  They didn’t need an informant to know that.  As a result, the DA plans to crack down.  This is best quoted:  “We have been told that, during next weekend’s Renn Fayre celebration, undercover Portland police officers will be circulating on campus, uniformed Portland police officers will be on alert to respond immediately to calls, and prosecutors stand ready to process criminal charges (Colin Diver).” Nice.  Naturally there’s a lot of jabber about our community supporting itself through Renn Fayre, about having fun and staying out of trouble, and a strong leaning towards “watch the hell out”.

Well, I wasn’t really planning to pour anything onto my brain next weekend besides malty beverages, so I’m not terribly disappointed.  Nor am I surprised; this is simply the logical conclusion of the tactless game that we’ve been playing as a community.  The student body has made it nigh impossible for the administration to turn a blind eye, and on this issue the administration has proved itself almost completely ineffectual at curbing or sheltering drug use.

As I’ve said before, it’s not about the drugs.  It’s about the culture that we’ve fostered here: one that lacks any intrinsic honesty and integrity.  Drugs can be used discretely– I went through a period of my life where I poked around in psychedelia a bit, and not only am I not in jail, but I’m happy, healthy, and drug-free.  The reason that we don’t have just drugs but a “drug problem” is that our students take the run of campus like kids partying at their parents’ house while they’re away, and the administration has just behaved like the parent who says “don’t touch the liquor cabinet while we’re gone *wink*”.  The problem is not limited to drugs– we have problems with theft, smoking, graffiti, etc.  The drugs are in the foreground because of our national anti-drug culture, and because students are dying.  (As a side note: the complexities of drug addiction are beyond my experience and beyond the judgement of this posting.  I in no way want to castigate those who’ve fallen victim to addiction.  Their personal burdens are ones that I wish our community had been able to help shoulder.)

The honor principle is defined in the negative: don’t do wrong.  It’s another flavor of prohibitive law, which arises only when a community cannot govern its own behavior through culture.  We can change our collective attitude, but I think that it might take something severe to get us pissed enough.  Like undercover cops on campus.  We deserve the treatment that we’re receiving.  The only out that I see is reform from the ground up.  The administration won’t do it, at least not effectively.  Realize that your freedoms are contingent on your ability to self-govern, and hold others to a higher standard.  Their misbehavior is your problem.  Cut them down for not living up to your values.  It’s not the sixties any more; we need to grow a spine.

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