Which U.S. Colleges Discipline Students the Most for Drug Offenses?

By May Wilkerson 02/11/15

A new study showed that the number of disciplinary actions doesn't necessarily lead to more arrests.

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Some American colleges that crack down the hardest on students’ drug use may be more liberal in how they discipline students.

According to a new analysis from Project Know, the college with the highest rate of drug-related disciplinary actions is the University of California, Santa Cruz. Out of every 1,000 students, 70.6 were penalized for drug use or possession in 2013.

But the school isn’t even among the top 50 for the most drug-related arrests. Top honor in this category goes to SUNY New Paltz, according to a report released last month ranking the colleges with the highest rate of drug-related arrests. The discrepancy between the two reports shows that campus disciplinary actions don’t necessarily lead to arrests. Many schools, like UC Santa Cruz, are more liberal in their approach to disciplining students for drugs.

"Instead of being arrested, [an offending student] might be referred by the police officer to the student conduct office,” explains the Project Know report. “A panel then decides what, if any, disciplinary action the student should face, which could include community service, probation, or a remediation program."

Scott Hernandez-Jason, spokesman for UC Santa Cruz, said that students busted for drugs on campus were most likely to receive “admonishments,” or more severe "warnings." Those with warnings often have to enter a counseling program, "so there is both a disciplinary action and an opportunity for learning."

Though some UC Santa Cruz students have reportedly complained that the campus is too strict about drugs, Hernandez-Jason says the campus’ approach has the students’ best interest at heart: "This approach gives [UC Santa Cruz] an opportunity to provide counseling, education and other interventions to make sure students adhere to our campus principles and continue their education.”

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.