In the final meeting of the semester, the ASUI Senate voted 13-to-1 Wednesday to pass a resolution asking the University of Idaho Dean of Students Office to change its penalty structure for marijuana violations.
Sen. Caitlin Bowyer sponsored the resolution and said it was drafted, because there isn’t a clear outline of consequences in the UI Student Code of Conduct for students found using or in possession of marijuana, as there is with alcohol violations.
“We just want to make it really clear for students, so they know what’s going to happen to them if they are caught with marijuana,” Bowyer said. “I think we all have seen or, at least, we know that marijuana is changing in the way people view it across the (U.S.) … We are not advocating for legalization or anything like that, we just want to make students aware.”
During the debate, Sen. Danny Bugingo asked for an outside “colloquy” with Dean of Students Blaine Eckles, who said his office is taking a deep look at its changing principles and policies.
Eckles said he advocated for case-by-case penalties and flexibility not one-set policy, and encouraged the senate to vote no on the resolution.
“I’m not against consistency whatsoever, but what we want to try to make sure we’re keeping students’ needs considered,” Eckles said. “(The resolution) doesn’t allow the university to be adaptive for those found in violation.”
Eckles said his office is overhauling processes to be more fair, consistent and educational, and hopes to eventually create a rubric for such violations.
“Not all students who smoke marijuana are the same or do it the same and we need to be able to deal with everybody fairly,” Eckles said. “I know a lot of students don’t think of marijuana as really a drug anymore … But, it is still an illegal drug, regardless of what happens three miles over.”
Eckles said legality needs to be taken into consideration, but he is less concerned with the laws than he is what is right on campus, according to UI standards.
Sen. Clayton Zimmerman agreed with Eckles and said the senate might be overstepping and needed to reconsider the resolution’s intent.
“I believe we should speak as carefully as possible for the students of the University of Idaho when telling administrators what to do, especially if (the resolution) can come before the body two weeks after being considered without hearing Dean Eckles’ comments,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman said the resolution should be voted down in the interest of students and administrators.
ASUI Pro-Tempore Mattie Cupps rebutted and said the resolution is just a suggestion to the administration and doesn’t actually force the Dean of Students Office to do anything on the matter.
“There need to be sanctions that aren’t as harmful to the students’ education,” Cupps said. “We are a university that is here to support and teach students on every level … I believe we need to be taking this opportunity not to punish the students with a suspension, but to bring the students about with an education.”
Olivia Heersink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @heersinkolivia