July 18, 2019 | 76° F

Rutgers Code of Student Conduct may still reprimand marijuana use

Photo by Declan Intindola |

Kevin Pitt is the director of the Office of Student Conduct at Rutgers. He says that while future state laws may call for marijuana legalization, the University’s code of conduct still prohibits it and may take administrative action. 

During his campaign to become the state's 56th governor, Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) ran on a ticket that pushed cannabis law reform. 

Currently, under Rutgers policy, students who possess or use marijuana must undergo educational programming or intervention and follow-up with parental notification for their first offense, according to the Visiting Student Handbook. 

On a student’s second offense, housing is taken away if they live on-campus. For students who live off-campus and receive a second offense, they must pay a fine and can be placed on probation. 

"For a student(s) first offense, our office approaches the violation both educationally and punitively," said Kevin Pitt, the director of the Office of Student Conduct at Rutgers, in an email. "For a first-time violation, a student would be sanctioned to attend the fantastic Alcohol & Other Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) run by CAPS as well as, issued a reprimand and a fine."

He said that every case is different and the sanctions can vary depending on the facts.

If in the future New Jersey laws change and marijuana is legalized, Pitt said that Rutgers drug policies will be slightly different as well. Possession and use of marijuana will still be a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, but students might not be arrested. 

“If state law changes and marijuana becomes legal, possession and use on campus will still be a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, but a student may not be arrested," Pitt said. "We will work with the Alcohol and Drug Initiatives Committee on any changes to disciplinary sanctions if new legislation is passed.”

Part of the process that the office is going through is the inclusion of drug overdoses into the medical amnesty policy. Pitt said that with the proposed changes, any student experiencing an alcohol or drug-related medical emergency will no longer have to fear student-conduct repercussions.

Pitt said that there are no other changes to the current drug possession and use violations within the student code of conduct.

It is important for Rutgers students to be aware of the Code of Student Conduct policies, that way they can be informed about the new disciplinary processes on-campus, Pitt said. 

Rutgers recently added “University ticket resale” to its code of conduct in order to prevent students from inflating the price of free concert tickets, Pitt said. 

This was decided after town hall meetings with students who spoke about other people taking advantage of the system by reselling tickets at high rates.

"One of the final upgrades we are proposing is the removal of our expungement option for students who been found responsible for code violations," Pitt said. "Legally, our office must retain conduct records for 10 years so when graduate or professional schools contact us about a student’s conduct record we are legally obligated to disclose. We didn’t want to confuse or misled students to think that their conduct record was disappearing completely when they were granted expungement so we’ve proposed removing it as an option so there is no more confusion.(sic)" 

Currently, Rutgers has no plans to change any of its drug policies, except for keeping with legislative changes that may impact state law. Pitt said that if New Jersey law changes, Rutgers will review its policies to ensure that they are compliant. 

“We are really excited by this Code of Student Conduct upgrade and we got a lot of student feedback to help guide our efforts,” he said. “Overall we’ve made the process simpler and clearer for our students to understand ... The new disciplinary process is faster and will meet the needs of our fast-paced campus.”

Jaehyun Kim

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