Every new student must take a drug test at Linn State Technical College, a two-year public school in central Missouri. This appears to be most sweeping drug-testing policy at any public college or university in the U.S., reports AP.
School leaders say the tests, which they prefer to call drug screenings, are necessary to ensure student safety at a campus where the coursework includes aircraft maintenance, heavy engine repair, nuclear technology and other dangerous tasks. They surveyed hundreds of local employers, who overwhelmingly supported a requirement those same students will soon encounter in the job market, said Richard Pemberton, associate dean of student affairs.
“They’re going to be faced with this as they go into the drug-free workplace,” he said. “We want them to be prepared.”
However, the rule includes all first-year students, including those studying general education, accounting, communications, math, social sciences and physical therapy.
The tests screen for 11 drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and oxycodone. Students who test positive can stay in school while on probation but must test clean 45 days later to remain enrolled while also completing an online drug-prevention course or assigned to other, unspecified “appropriate activities,” according to the school’s written policy.
Students who initially test positive but then test negative a subsequent time will remain on probation for the rest of that semester and also face an unannounced follow-up test. The tests cost $50, a fee paid by students.
Linn State will end up in court if it doesn’t back down, said attorney Dan Viets, a member of the Missouri Civil Liberties Association. Mandatory drug testing is an unconstitutional search and a violation of students’ privacy, he said. “I don’t know why they think they can get away with it.”