It’s Time to Change the No-Chance Policy

All-School Presidents Sydney Goldstein ’22 and Izhaar Rosa ’22 opened Stu-Fac last Monday with a new proposal to replace the School’s No-Chance Policy regarding the use of drugs and alcohol. According to the Almanac, “Possession or use of drugs, inhalants, chemical substances, or drug paraphernalia, except as specifically prescribed to that student by a physician; possession or use of any smokeless device which is determined to have been used, at any time, to deliver illegal substances (including e-cigarettes or vaping products) is also prohibited. Students found to be in violation of this rule will be dismissed.” The same applies to the use of alcohol.

The new policy, if adopted, would implement a series of measures to ensure that students found in violation of the Drug and Alcohol Policy would receive guidance from the health center as well as a continual evaluation of the student’s progress. This change in policy is necessary in order to cultivate a community in which students are able to focus on rehabilitation rather than dealing with the consequences. Less severe repercussions would foster a more forgiving culture where students can learn from their mistakes and move beyond them. However, although this policy is a step in the right direction, it ignores an opportunity to completely overhaul how the school addresses drug and alcohol use.

The proposed policy addresses rehabilitation, which is only a small portion of the problem. The School should focus more on preventative measures such as educating younger students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. The proposed policy only aids students after they have used drugs and/or alcohol. Extending the health center policy simply demonstrates a lack of understanding of the issue because the health center policy is inherently meant for extreme cases; as it stands, the Health Center Policy is more reactive than proactive. Students should be given support and guidance before they begin using drugs and alcohol in the first place.

Additionally, this focus on rehabilitation does not address D&A use at the School because many students never get caught. Under the proposed policy, the students who do get caught receive support and guidance; however, the large portion of students who are never caught will continue with substance abuse. Therefore, many students will never even have the chance to receive help.

The proposed policy also fails to consider the circumstances surrounding drug use. Should a one-time user face the same repercussions as a frequent user? Does the rigor of the Hotchkiss academic agenda along with the social pressure many students face create a situation where drugs and alcohol seem like a reasonable outlet or escape from the day-to-day grind? Because each violation of the No-Chance policy is unique, the final policy needs to take into account the circumstances surrounding drug and alcohol use. One member of the class of 2024 said, “It is peculiar that the consequences for academic dishonesty are less severe than for drug and alcohol violations. A one-time use of drugs or alcohol is a mistake. Academic dishonesty is a moral breach.”

Hotchkiss needs to examine these deeper questions. Simply eradicating the No Chance policy is a surface-level change. Hotchkiss needs to focus on the prevention of drug and alcohol use in order to reduce the number of students who invoke the Health Center Policy.