Students’ consumption of marijuana in residential residence halls is an issue that must be addressed and corrected. Occidental’s Residential Education and Housing Services (REHS) serves a vital purpose in providing clean living conditions for students, but their policies regarding the smoking of marijuana in dorms must be more strictly and widely enforced.
It is not justified to create poor and disruptive conditions for those with whom we live and those who maintain our living conditions. Students must recognize that consuming marijuana in their dorm rooms is disruptive and compromises not only student health, but also the health of the cleaning staff.
It is also important that REHS and the Occidental community fully understand and implement Occidental’s policies, as well as the consequences of violating these policies. Students should understand that it is their responsibility, as adults, to comply with the policies, to uphold living standards and to respect the rights of their fellow students. In addition, Occidental as an institution must be consistent in enforcing its policies in order to fulfill its obligation of ensuring a safe and healthy learning environment.
A solution that Occidental College and REHS can consider is developing educational programs specifically designed to increase students’ awareness and understanding of the perils associated with marijuana smoking. These programs would demonstrate that while students, according to the REHS Policies, have “the right to individual choice,” that it does not translate to having the right to smoke in their dorm.
Students and staff members can also distribute literature and conduct informative town hall sessions. The combination of literature and annual meetings about the REHS policies for residents can reduce the amount of marijuana that students consume in their dorm rooms and encourage others to abide by the same standards.
In addition to spreading information on REHS policies, an effort to improve enforcement and compliance is much needed. REHS policy explicitly requires, “that all members of the community abide by, and work together to enforce, other policies and uphold other expectations while protecting each other’s rights.” It is important to have all REHS staff conduct more thorough room checks under the suspicion of violations and, when violations are noted, follow through with meaningful consequences. In order to reduce marijuana usage in residential halls, it is vital that REHS staff enforce these policies.
Enforcement and compliance is not just the RAs’ responsibility, nor is it the REHS staffs’ alone. We as students must understand, support and encourage our peers not to smoke marijuana in residential living as it jeopardizes the health of others and ultimately compromises Occidental’s reputation.
The Occidental community must unify in addressing this ever-growing concern. Our failure to treat smoking marijuana as a policy violation discourages students to unite and fight for the healthy living conditions they deserve.