Daily Egyptian

Students’ Legal Assistance cannot represent students against university drug charges

By Kallie Cox, Staff Reporter

Students’ Legal Assistance cannot assist student’s facing university charges for on-campus drug violations, according to Charles Munson, Staff Attorney at the Students’ Legal Assistance office.

The legal assistance department cannot assist students who have committed an on-campus drug offense, Munson said. If a student is charged with an ordinance violation, the Students’ Legal Assistance office can represent them as long as the offense occurs in Jackson County.

The University pays Students’ Legal Assistance and it is therefore a legal conflict of interest, Munson said.

Advertisement

If the off-campus offense occurs outside of Jackson County, the Legal Assistance office can offer advice and refer the student to other legal resources.

All students alleged to have violated any provision of the Student Conduct Code have the right to procedural due process.

The burden of proof lies with the person or entity (the university) alleging the violation of the student conduct code. In order to find a student or faculty member guilty of any violation of the code, there must be more evidence suggesting the event occurred than not according to page 19 of the student conduct code.

At the time of publication, since Aug. 20, the campus police have reported six arrests and three referrals for drug violations on campus.

According to Director of DPS, Benjamin Newman, numbers provided by the annual security report indicate that drug use on campus is down.

In 2014, 115 students were arrested for drug law violations, in 2015 there were 106, and in 2016 there were 97, according to the annual security report.

Students can be arrested for illegal possession of a controlled substance or possession of drug paraphernalia.

Newman defines paraphernalia as devices used to use the drug, weigh the drug, store the drug or that are associated with the drug.

According to the ILCS 600 Drug Paraphernalia Control Act, paraphernalia can include water pipes, electric pipes, air-driven pipes and bongs.

Of the drug-related arrests that have occurred since Aug. 20, two have been related to paraphernalia.

A student found with illegal paraphernalia can be charged with a class A misdemeanor, which carries a $750 fine, according to the ILCS  Drug Paraphernalia Control Act.

Newman said ten grams and under of marijuana is considered a civil forfeiture and carries a fine of up to $200.

“Anything over 10 grams they usually hand off to the states attorney’s office,” Munson said. “10 grams or more is generally considered an amount that you are dealing.”

Lori Stettler, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, said faculty and staff members who suspect a student of using drugs, or observe a student displaying abnormal behavior, are obligated to report the student to Saluki Cares.

The university would work in conjunction with DPS, Stettler said. They would also work in conjunction with the police or the wellness center if the student needed assistance from an educational standpoint.

“We want all faculty, staff, and students, to know that at any point if they feel uncomfortable, if they believe something is going on, then it goes back to the adage ‘See something say something.’” Stettler said.

If a resident assistant smells marijuana, a report is immediately filed according to Stettler.

“We take it very seriously,” Stettler said. “In the state of Illinois it is illegal, marijuana is illegal. And we are a public institution and therefore we follow the laws of the state of Illinois.”

After an odor is reported by an RA, Newman said, the police may receive a call for an odor investigation, and a police officer will respond to the location to determine where the odor is coming from.

Newman said students who are found guilty of a controlled substance-related offense will suffer both legal, and university consequences.

“If a student commits an infraction or a violation of [the] law he or she can be subject to arrest and citation,” Newman said. “In addition, a referral will be made to Student Rights and Responsibilities.”

If a student would like to appeal a disciplinary sanction that has been put into place against them the should refer to page 34 of the student conduct code that can be seen here.

Stettler and Newman said they believed with the programming provided by the wellness center, drug use would continue to go down.

Staff reporter Kallie Cox can be reached at kcox@dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter at @KallieC45439038.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

Advertisement

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




The student news site of Southern Illinois University