Drug-Free Campus - Policies, Guidelines, and Resources

To All Members of the University Community

West Chester University is a learning community that encourages community responsibility. The University strives to create a campus environment that is safe for the individual - one that is free of violent crime, free of power-based personal violence, free of the use of illegal drugs, and free of the abuse and misuse of alcohol and prescription drugs. Those acts threaten not only the individual user but also the entire University community.

Out of concern for the health and safety of campus communities, the federal government enacted the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendment (Public Law 101-226) in 1989. This law requires institutions of higher education to inform the campus community about issues related to substance use and abuse, including resources available to assist students, faculty, and staff in combating alcohol and drug problems, as well as relevant regulations and laws.

I ask you to review the following information carefully. I urge you to act responsibly and seek additional knowledge about our educational programs, support services, and current laws from the University resource personnel listed in this handbook. West Chester University is committed to fostering an environment that promotes the health and safety of everyone in our campus community.

  • Sincerely,
  • Christopher M. Fiorentino
  • President

Resources

Are you a student with questions or concerns about alcohol or other drug use? There are people within the University community to help with private, confidential counseling, referral, and information. Please seek assistance from the following University offices:

University employees are encouraged to contact the State Employee Assistance Program (SEAP), which is confidential and available at no cost.

·         1-800-692-7459

·         1-800-824-4306 (TDD)

·         liveandworkwell.com  (Access Code: Pennsylvania)

If you have questions or need more information please contact:

  • Office of Wellness Promotion
    • Commonwealth Hall, Ground Floor
    • 610-436-0730
  • Counseling and Psychological Services Department
    • Lawrence Center, Suite 241
    • 610-436-2301
  • Associate Vice President for Student Affairs
    • 105 Ruby Jones Hall
    • 610-436-3086
  • Office of Student Conduct
    • 200 Ruby Jones Hall
    • 610-436-3511
  • Public Safety
    • Peoples Building
    • 610-436-3311

YOU ARE ENCOURAGED TO GET THE FACTS

Seeking Help in a Medical Emergency

West Chester University encourages students to seek medical assistance for themselves and other students in situations that are possibly life threatening due to an alcohol or other drug related emergency. Both Pennsylvania law and campus policies provide protections to underage students to encourage students to call for help without the fear of getting in trouble.  

Remember C.U.P.S. when deciding to call for help if you are concerned you or someone else is at medical risk: 

·         C – Cold, clammy, pale or blueish skin

·         U – Unresponsive, unconscious or unable to awaken

·         P -  Puking while passed out or uncontrollably

·         S – Slow, shallow or irregular breathing.  (The person’s ribs are motionless, or they exhale and do not inhale again for 10 seconds or more) 

Take Action if you or a friend is in need of medical assistance due to a substance related emergency right away. 

·         Call 610-436-3311 (if on-campus) or 911 (if off-campus and/or on-campus) 

·         Identify the signs – the person does not need to be presenting with all C.U.P.S. signs to be experiencing alcohol poisoning or a drug overdose and never wait for all signs to be present.

·         Understand that is serious and the person needs help 

·         Turn the person onto their side 

·         Stay with the person until medical services arrive - never leave them to "sleep it off" 

·         If breathing stops, perform CPR or find someone who knows how 

 

When calling for help for yourself or a friend, follow these steps to receive medical amnesty from campus policies:

·         Call 911, public safety, police, emergency services or contact another authorized university representative based on reasonable belief that someone, including themselves, is in need of immediate medical assistance;

·         Reasonably believe that they were the first person to make the emergency call and reported that a person needed immediate medical assistance;

·         Provide their own name to the 911 operator, public safety, police emergency officer, university staff or other authorized university representative;

·         Remain with the person needing medical assistance until emergency health care providers have arrived and taken care of the person in need of medical assistance; and

·         Comply with the post event educational/counseling objectives issued by the Office of Wellness Promotion and/or the Office of Student Conduct

 

Additional information about WCU’s Medical Amnesty policy can be found on this website .

Additional information on PA Laws:

·        Safe Harbor

·        Drug Overdose Response Immunity

·        Medical Amnesty

My Health

You are the best person to make personal decisions regarding the use of alcohol and other drugs.  It is ok to make the choice to not use alcohol or other drugs.  Despite what some people may think, not all college students use alcohol or other drugs.  In fact, 27.5% of undergraduate college students surveyed across the country during the Fall 2020 semester reported that they never consumed alcohol and 63.8% never used marijuana for nonmedical purposes (National College Health Assessment, Spring 2020.  N= 13,373 undergraduate students). 

When evaluating your personal decisions regarding alcohol and other drug use, knowing how to make decisions that will lower your risk of health and legal repercussions is critical. 

Making Decisions Around Personal Alcohol Use

It is ok to make the decision not to drink.

If you are of age and make the decision to use alcohol, consider what less risky drinking might look include:

·         Pour your own standard drink of alcohol.  A standard drink of alcohol includes:

o    12 ounces of beer with 5% alcohol

o    5 ounces of wine with 12% alcohol content

o    1.5 ounces of distilled spirits with 40% alcohol

·         Pace your drinks to no more than 1 standard drink per hour

·         Set a drinking limit before you start consuming.  If you are concerned about sticking to that limit, tell a friend to help keep you accountable

·         Eat before, during, and after consuming alcohol

·         Find ways to socialize with others that don’t involve higher risk decisions such as drinking games

·         Plan a safe way home

Know the difference between moderate and excessive alcohol use.

Moderate: defined by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as up to 1 drink per day for a females assigned at birth and up to 2 drinks per day for a males assigned at birth.  There are recommended reasons why people are advised to not use any alcohol (those who are younger than 21 years of age, pregnant or may be pregnant, driving or planning to drive, taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, certain medical conditions, and individuals recovering from alcoholism). 

Excessive Alcohol Use: According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, excessive alcohol use includes heavy alcohol use and binge drinking.  Heavy alcohol use is defined for females assigned at birth as 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks per week and for   males assigned at birth, 4 drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week.  Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking alcohol that that raises a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher.  For a typical adult this would be defined as consuming 5 or more drinks by males assigned at birth or 4 or more drinks for females assigned at birth, within 2 hours.   

Additional information to help you make the best choice for you can be found here

Making Decisions Around Other Drugs

Any drug, even if over the counter or a legal prescription, has possible risks and side effects that could cause impairment. While use of legal prescription drugs is regulated and risks are written on the packaging, misuse can occur if not taken as prescribed or if taken by someone the medication was not prescribed for. There are  no guidelines and you can never be sure of strength or purity in non-prescribed/illegal drugs.

If making the decision to put any substance into your body, it is important to learn accurate information about the substances as there is a lot of misinformation and misperceptions about use.  There are real risks associated with combining drugs, sharing drugs, using unmonitored concentrations and quantities of drugs.  To learn more about specific drugs and their effects, visit drugabuse.gov 

Your Knowledge of the Law

West Chester University prohibits the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees on its property or as part of any of its activities. The University vigorously enforces all local, state, and federal laws as they pertain to the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol. Conviction under such laws provides for punishment that includes fines and/or imprisonment. The specific codes are described in detail in the Student Code of Conduct.

The links below show summaries of the legal consequences of alcohol-related violations in Pennsylvania, the state Marijuana Crime Code, and legal sanctions for drug violations under federal government law:

I.   Legal sanctions for underage alcohol law violation under state law and also DUI laws.
II.  Legal sanctions for marijuana law violations under state law.  
III. Legal sanctions for drug violations under federal law.

Use and Possession of Medical Marijuana is Prohibited

USE AND POSSESSION OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA (CANNABIS) IS PROHIBITED

Federal law, specifically the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act, supersedes Pennsylvania state law. The use and possession of all marijuana is prohibited on campus. Some people need to use medical marijuana that is lawfully obtained under state law. However, lawful use and possession must occur at a location outside the University’s campus property.

  • In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, medical marijuana is a lawfully recognized medication. How then can a state-run institution not support state law? How does a state law enforcement officer have the authority to enforce federal and not state law?
    • Federal law supersedes state law. Under federal law, specifically the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act, marijuana in all forms (regardless of its medical necessity) is an illegal drug.
    • Under federal law, universities must adopt and enforce a written policy that bans the use or possession of all marijuana on campus.
    • University police officers enforce University policy, which is and must be consistent with federal law.

  • How can medical marijuana be used legally by University students or employees?
    • Some people need to use medical marijuana that is lawfully obtained under state law. But lawful use must occur at a location outside the University’s campus property.
    • Nothing in the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act changes federal law. There are lawful uses of marijuana in Pennsylvania. However, medical marijuana is simply not permitted on campus.

  • Who are the designated persons on campus to manage questions regarding medical marijuana?
    • The Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Assistant Dean of Students for Student Conduct, and Vice President for Student Affairs are available to:
      • Counsel students about living off campus if they intend to use medical marijuana.
      • Help students identify housing resources.
      • Affirm that no one may lawfully possess or use medical marijuana on campus.

  • Is CBD Oil a form of medical marijuana?
    • No, CBD products are a new trend. CBD is often advertised as a “cure-all,” which will “not get you high” or “not show on a drug screening.” However, some users of this “natural supplement” claiming to be THC-free have tested positive for THC and lost jobs over it. It is unregulated and anyone considering CBD should exercise caution

Our Community

Be a friend – Rams look out for one another.

If you notice something that doesn’t look or feel right, do something.  Keep in mind the 5 D’s of bystander intervention.

Delegate: get assistance from someone else to help or to call 911

Distract: draw away or divert attention from the situation

Direct: confront concerning behavior.  Be firm and clear

Delay: check on people after the situation and ask how you can help

Document: if it is safe to do so, document the incident. Do not share images/videos on social media without permission of those involved.

 

It can be hard to approach someone you care about when you are concerned about their substance use. When expressing your concern to your friend, consider:

  •  Be supportive and come from a place of care and concern
  •  Talking with them when they are not under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.  Consider a place that provides privacy.
  •  Be specific about what you are seeing
  •  Be prepared with what you plan to say; write down what you might want to say

Not sure how to help a friend?  Consider connecting with one of the campus resources listed above. 

My Education and Future

Decisions about alcohol and other drug use can have an impact on your education and your future.  Your success as a WCU student can be impacted by missing class, falling behind in class, performing poorly on exams and receiving lower grades as a result of use. 

WCU has a variety of ways that you can get involved and meet other students that does not involve the use of alcohol or other drugs.  The campus resource offices can help you navigate your well-being as a college student including managing stress, exercising, choosing nutritious foods and making decisions about substance abuse.   

You will invest a lot of time, energy, and financial resources in your education.  While a decision might feel like it is a good one to make today, it is important to consider the long-term consequences such as not being able to get into graduate school or pursuing you’re a job in your desired field.  Employers, including those in education and government, may require a background check that includes University conduct records as well as criminal records. In addition, graduate schools may require a clearance from the Dean of Students Office, which includes conduct records.

This information was prepared as part of the educational efforts associated with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989..

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