March 24, 2019 | 32° F

Mandatory drug tests invade student privacy


Imagine walking into your first day of college and being asked to urinate into a cup. It may sound like a strange scenario, but for students at Linn State Technical College — the only public technical college in Missouri — it's a very real one. The school recently enacted a measure whereby all new students are required to submit to a drug test. If a student fails the test, he or she will have 45 days to pass another one. If this whole program sounds unnecessarily invasive, that's because it is, especially for a public college.

According to officials at the school, the tests are a safety measure. At Linn State, some students routinely work with heavy machinery as part of their course loads. Administrators see the mandatory drug tests as a way to hopefully prevent any serious injuries as a result of irresponsible behavior. This is certainly a concern that the school needs to take seriously, but their preferred method of dealing with said concern is too extreme. Even the students who do not work with machinery are subject to the drug tests. In choosing to administer mandatory drug tests to all new students, Linn State is unquestionably invading their privacy. It is a textbook example of unlawful search and seizure, and we are shocked that so many administrators at Linn State are in support of the measure.

Students attend colleges to receive educations. They do not pay thousands of dollars in tuition to be treated like criminals, and they should not have to deal with such undue suspicion from the very people who are supposed to be supporting their academic careers and encouraging their continued growth as individuals.

It is especially disconcerting to see these measures being taken at a public college. As a manifestation of the state government, Linn State should seek to uphold all aspects of the law — including the constitutional right to privacy. If Linn State were a private college, it would have more freedom to enact a program like this — although, even in that case, we would be unhappy to see it happen. But Linn State's status as a public educational institution should prevent it from prying so needlessly into the lives of its students. Take a moment to think about what would happen if the University were to pull something like this. We're willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of students would express their dissatisfaction quite loudly, and we hope Linn State students do the same. College students are adults — let them monitor their own personal responsibility.


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