Recently, we’ve noticed an alarming trend of lawmakers and university officials citing the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (DFSCA) as an obstacle impeding them from allowing sensible policy change on college campuses. They claim that by changing drug and alcohol policies on campus, they will risk being denied federal funding and other forms of financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education.
This was evident last month in Arizona when Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill into law that banned the use of medical marijuana on Arizona state college campuses. Supporters of the bill said they acted to protect federal funding for institutions of higher education, which they claimed was at stake if medical marijuana was used on campuses.
Earlier this month, our SSDP chapter at Tufts University was halted from reforming their campus drug and alcohol policy as well. Tufts SSDP wanted to align their university policy with the recently reformed statewide marijuana policy. The proposed policy would have imposed a $100 fine if a student was found with one ounce or less of marijuana on campus. The change would have made Tufts policy consistent with Massachusetts state law. Unfortunately, the ballot referendum was removed by the Dean of Students, due to his concerns about a loss of federal funding if the policy were to change.
So, I did a little research, and called up the U.S. Department of Education. What I found out was surprising. It turns out that our opponents claims are entirely without merit. In fact, not a single college or university participating in the Federal Student Aid program has ever lost Title IV eligibility as a result of violating the DFSCA. SSDP staff has put together this new briefing paper to fight back against this misguided line of argumentation.