As a Penn parent, I am frequently disappointed by the passive response of the University to drug and alcohol abuse on campus. While it is clearly impossible to completely eliminate this problem at Penn or any other college, the University’s attitude of acquiescence when confronted with dangerous drug use is deeply troubling. In particular, I am horrified by Julie Lyzinski’s comments in her capacity as director of Penn’s Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Program Initiatives.
Lyzinski is resigned to the use of ecstasy, a potentially lethal drug, at this year’s Spring Fling. It seems that superficial and catchy phrases constitute her campaign against this terrible reality. Please consider the tone of her statements: “We are going to have a lot of first-time users this spring” and “We recognized that this could be a situation that FlingSafe members might encounter.”
She “highly recommends” that students who are contemplating whether or not to use MDMA think about potential negative side effects. “The more a student educates him or herself, the better,” she said.
These pleas, which sound as if Lyzinksi is in some way afraid of taking action or establishing clear consequences for dangerous and illegal substance abuse, are inexcusable. The DP article on this problem cites students willing to spend hundreds of dollars and risk severe injury or death for this type of experience. They rationalize their choice in a way that shows total ignorance or disregard of medical reality. Asking them to please reconsider is ineffectual and worthless.
If Penn is truly concerned with its students’ health, well-being and education in the broadest sense — and not in enabling students, many affluent, to enjoy themselves at any cost — they will respond by promising and following through with the strongest consequences. Any students fortunate enough to survive the use of dangerous drugs as part of Spring Fling should have to withdraw from the University. There are many applicants to Penn who would be happy to take their place.
Emily Schneider is high-school teacher and Penn parent from New York. Her son is an Engineering sophomore. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.