Student Senator and Executive Vice President-elect Zachary Rousseas said during his campaign that the E-board would attempt to update SUNY New Paltz’s “No Second Chance” policy for marijuana-related offenses.
The current policy calls for disciplinary probation and educational intervention in the event of a first-time offense and expulsion in the event of a second. This differs from the majority of SUNY schools policies that allow for three strikes before expulsion.
We at The New Paltz Oracle believe such policy changes could only serve to improve our reputation as a progressive and pro-student campus. Considering the decriminalization of marijuana in our state, we also believe adopting a more forgiving policy would be more consistent with the rest of New York.
As Rousseas said, Americans across the country are also dealing with similar problems as the laws surrounding this issue change. As the United States continues to decriminalize marijuana-use, our campus should attempt to mirror such actions.
After all, there’s no harm in following the national trend — particularly when it could protect students from overly harsh punishments for admittedly minor infractions.
Our campus should strive for a policy that is both fair and effective. Students should not face harsher, higher stakes punishments on campus than they would right across the street.
While President Donald Christian asked why a responsible administrator who cares about academic progress would change the two strike policy — citing the low average GPAs of the 277 students to receive first-use judicial violation and the mere eight students who faced penalties for a second in the last three years as evidence — we believe the campus should look to protect its students, regardless of GPA.
Yes, the number may seem small and lackluster grades may make them seem disposable. However, those students — 277 or eight — are our classmates. We believe each and every one of them matters and that each and every one is deserving of that second chance. A responsible administrator would look for a way to provide students the opportunities to learn and grow from mistakes, whether there’s 8 or 277. Calling for a second chance isn’t asking for all that much.
We believe that the goal of an educational institution should always be to provide and safe and fair learning environment for its students. If our administration wants to be considered progressive and pro-student, we should begin by following the progressive trends of our state.
Though some administrators may worry that adopting a different policy would encourage more students to use marijuana, we disagree. In general, the students who choose to use marijuana and those who choose not to do so will act accordingly regardless of policy. The number of strikes makes little difference in this regard to those who do not already partake, but a it could be a world of difference to a student who can make a change for the future.