DCU’s indifference to student addiction

Image Credit: Laura Horan

DCU has a zero tolerance drug policy. Those found to be in possession of any illegal drugs will be severely penalised and perhaps even face prosecution.

The university also has a dedicated student bar on its Glasnevin campus. While most dangerous substances are outright banned, alcohol is sold in copious amounts to students every day.

NuBar is not owned by DCU, and it is not being alleged that the university is in any way profiting from the sale of alcohol to students. The existence of the student bar is merely indicative of the double standard towards dangerous substances that exists in this country.

One must be mindful  that the possession of drugs is illegal in Ireland. One must be sympathetic to the fact that a university which relies on state funding probably cannot afford to adopt anything but a black and white approach to drugs.

The issue is that a zero tolerance drug policy results in those suffering from addiction going without their university’s help. When a culture of fear is cultivated, people are less likely to seek assistance.

So be it if DCU imposes a blanket ban on drug possession on its campuses, but it should not blind itself to the potential addictions of its students. We only need to examine DCU’s alcohol policy to see how easily this problem could be addressed.

The webpage detailing DCU’s drug policy is less than fifty words long and contains a link to drugs.ie. The webpage detailing the alcohol policy is three times longer and features a PDF of a 650 word official policy document.

The alcohol policy is focused not on the prevention of students consuming alcohol, but rather on ensuring they do so in a safe and responsible manner. One of these attitudes is better than the other.

A drug policy based on student safety rather than strict enforcement would be better for the student body, but again DCU may be hamstrung by the laws of the land. There is, however, one very easy change the university needs to make.

The alcohol policy webpage features a link to DCU’s counselling and personal development services, specifically to a page about alcoholism. The drugs policy webpage features no such link.

This is an egregious example of an institutional oversight and recklessness towards the health of DCU students. There is no justifiable reason for a link to the university’s counselling service being absent.

The counselling and personal development services exist to help the students of DCU with their personal problems. Helping students with drug addictions certainly fits their job description.

Coping with a drug addiction is not something that anyone should have to do on their own. It is irresponsible of DCU to ignore this issue and not make the most basic of gestures towards helping people.

The webpage about DCU’s student bar is three times longer than the one about its drug policy. Helping students with drug addictions does not appear to be a high priority for the university.

Brion Hoban

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