SUNY New Paltz Amends Two-Strike Policy

As of the current 2018-2019 academic year, the State University of New York at New Paltz will no longer be following its two-strike policy against students found guilty of Possession of Illicit and/or Controlled Substances.

According to the July 2018 Student Handbook Section B item 12.01, “No person shall use, possess, manufacture or have under their control any narcotic, illegal drug or controlled substance not prescribed to them by a licensed physician, including but not limited to: cocaine and its derivatives, heroin, opiates, barbiturates, amphetamines, organic or synthetic, depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens; marijuana and its derivatives, including hash and hash oil, plants, seeds, resins, etc. or any other substance specifically prohibited or controlled by Federal or State law.”

In last year’s Student Handbook, it was stated that the penalty for a second offense be “not less than expulsion” for marijuana use. 

“Marijuana and drug use are still a violation of New Paltz policy,” said President Donald P. Christian in a statement. “This change aligns our sanctions with those of other top-tier SUNY campuses, including Geneseo and Binghamton.”

The current penalty for drug-related offenses is disciplinary probation, suspension held in abeyance, suspension or expulsion with special conditions including educational and/or clinical intervention, possible denial of campus residency and parental notification if applicable. Expulsion is no longer mandated as a penalty for a second offense.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) is an international grassroots network of students who neither encourage nor condemn drug use, but rather aim to reduce harm done by both drug abuse and drug policy. According to co-president of the New Paltz chapter Amanda Drucker, this group has never been quiet about the university’s two-strike policy.

“There have been countless meetings with the Student Association, and our past presidents even confronted Donald P. Christian about it,” she said. “SSDP has been involved in overturning the two-strike policy for about seven years. It was a huge accomplishment to have it overturned but it was really years in the making.”

She added that SSDP would like to see the legalization of marijuana statewide and are pushing local officials to reduce marijuana charges to the equivalency of noise complaints or alcohol violations.

“As for the school, I think it depends on how this new policy will take root,” she said. “There are definitely more stigmas to dispute and things like that.”

Interim University Police Chief Mary Ritayik stated that the UPD has no opinion on the matter as it does not affect their enforcement.

“We currently utilize the campus judicial system for a majority of our marijuana incidents,” she said. “Enforcement will still be the same on our end. It is up to the Dean of Students after that to decide.”