Pubdate: Wed, 23 Nov 2005
Source: Winston-Salem Journal (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Piedmont Publishing Co. Inc.
Note: Letters from newspaper's circulation area receive publishing priority
Bookmark: (Opinion)


Appalachian State University officials are right to be tackling the
issue of drug use by their students. They'll need to work quickly and
carefully - both to reduce drug use among students and prevent future
violence that could be tied to that use.

That's needed for several reasons. First, the school has had two
drug-related killings of students in just over a year's time. Joseph
"Joey" McClure, a senior from Pfafftown, was killed in October 2004.
Stephen Harrington, a sophomore from Raleigh, was killed Nov. 8. Court
documents indicate that Harrington's accused killers were involved in
a cocaine deal with him, and that McClure was shot in the head by
someone trying to make a "substantial purchase" of pot from him.
Second, ASU's judicial system handled more drug-related offenses in
2004 than any other school in the University of North Carolina system,
Monte Mitchell and Laura Giovanelli reported in Sunday's Journal.
University officials suggest that they have a strict drug policy that
results in more offenses. Yet some students say ASU has a well-known
reputation as a school where pot is readily available.

The Harrington and McClure cases underscore that that reputation is no
laughing matter. The cases underscore just how dangerous drugs can
get, even around a generally peaceful school with a sound academic
reputation. These cases are the extreme, but they underscore a
persistent problem at ASU and many other schools: Steady drug use that
can steadily reduce academic performance and initiative.

But how to combat drugs, especially at a school where most of the
students live off campus, presents a huge challenge. School officials
are right to be meeting with law enforcement officials on the problem,
because a combined response is crucial.

As it was, Boone police had a house that Harrington visited on the
last night of his life under loose surveillance, having received a tip
that drugs were possibly being sold from it. With better coordination
with campus law enforcement, perhaps the town police could have taken
some action before Harrington was killed.

Other ideas are worth trying as well. Watauga County Sheriff Mark
Shook says he would like to see more education for students about the
dangers of drug addiction and drug dealing. He's got a good idea. It
sounds as if some of the ASU students could use such education, even
though most in-state students get drug-prevention courses before they
get to Boone. ASU officials should consider these ideas and others and
craft an aggressive plan for tackling drug use and dealing by
students. ASU, just as so many other schools where some of the
students use drugs, had been doing what it could to combat the
problem. But the snuffing out of two young lives has made painfully
clear that more action is needed.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin