Pubdate: Mon, 12 May 2008
Source: Daily Aztec, The (San Diego State, CA Edu)
Copyright: 2008 The Daily Aztec
Author: Tucker Wincele
Note: Tucker Wincele is a political science and economics sophomore 
and a staff columnist.
Bookmark: (Students - United States)
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)


Want to know the truth about Operation Sudden Fall? I wouldn't ask 
the Drug Enforcement Administration, the national news or even 
Stephen Weber, all of whom have thrown the students of San Diego 
State under the bus.

Last Tuesday, authorities wrapped up a year-long undercover 
investigation that began after an SDSU student died of a drug 
overdose. University officials feared this case was indicative of a 
larger culture of illegal drug use and invited federal agents to 
infiltrate the student body.

Breaking news on Tuesday morning made it appear that 96 people were 
arrested that day, 75 of them students. Impressions were that SDSU 
fraternities served as organized drug rings with strong gang 
connections and had been financing themselves with drug trafficking. 
National cable news companies were quickly on scene, describing with 
shock and awe to America how embedded the drug dealers were at SDSU.

What's wrong with this picture? Well, it's totally bogus.

Looking beyond the headlines, it becomes clear the DEA wildly 
distorted figures that have done irreparable damage to the already 
shaky reputation of this school. Do you think 75 students were 
arrested Tuesday? Guess again. Only 18 students were actually 
arrested, less than a dozen of them fraternity members.

Over the entire year-long investigation, an additional 15 students 
were arrested in conjunction with Operation Sudden Fall. The 
remaining 42 of the reported 75 students were arrested through 
routine police work, most of whom were charged with minor possession 
of marijuana and were unrelated to the DEA's operation.

In essence, this "huge drug bust" amounts to no more than a few 
individuals with serious drug trafficking charges, and only by 
lumping in dozens of minor student drug offenders did this case 
receive the attention it did.

Students should be up in arms over their implied connections to a few 
shady individuals, but the failure to denounce this unbalanced 
coverage stems from the continuous barrage of "party school" 
accusations so commonly leveled at SDSU. Said enough times, many 
began to accept the label and were not surprised to hear of the raid. 
But SDSU is no longer a party school. With an average grade point 
average of 3.77 for the incoming freshman class, potential $1,000 
noise violations and the title of No. 1 small research university in 
the nation, the truth is that SDSU is a prestigious and competitive 
university and dismissing it as a party school is grossly inaccurate.

Renewed school pride and anger at the poor generalizations should be 
students' overwhelming response to this incident. Make no mistake; 
any degree earned at SDSU will be diminished unless a distinction is 
made between the criminals and the 99.9 percent of upright, 
law-abiding students.

It seems logical that those in charge of SDSU would immediately 
refute and challenge these highly misleading figures by the news and 
DEA, which reflect so poorly on the institution they've sworn to 
promote. Yet the media and the government are allowed to make broad, 
implicating statements that tarnish SDSU's name and unfairly demonize 
the student body. More needs to be done to explain how small in scope 
these raids were.

On the flip side, these events could also use a healthy dose of 
honesty. On SDSU's Web site regarding the arrests, authorities 
"believe (they) have arrested the majority of those involved."

Who are they trying to kid? Neither the parents who have been through 
college nor most students who know how common drug use is will fall 
for that. Anyone who has ever worn a pledge pin knows that almost 
every single fraternity and sorority has members who are drug users. 
It seems unfair that in some cases, one member's decisions could get 
an organization thrown off campus. It seems additionally unfair that 
only a few houses were targeted when it's common knowledge that all 
houses have their share of problems.

Does anyone think the drug network will be set back by the removal of 
a couple of dealers? Anyone naive enough to think so is in no way 
qualified to be setting drug policy. Don't try to tell me 33 students 
provide all or even most of the drugs to a student body of more than 
33,000 - the math just doesn't work out.

If SDSU was serious about halting the use of drugs, which is endemic 
to all colleges, the investigation would be escalated and sustained, 
not winding down. Such a goal would be worth the money spent, lives 
ruined and loss of this school's credibility. Unfortunately, in 
stereotypical SDSU fashion, the commitment appears to be no deeper 
than a one night stand.

Tucker Wincele is a political science and economics sophomore and a 
staff columnist.

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