By Anna Schwarz and Madilyn Ruiter
In a school where the majority of students participate in at least one sport season, our athletic drug policy is especially relevant. Beginning this year, LUHS has adopted a new drug policy that allows student athletes who have committed an infraction to rejoin their team after sitting out a set number of games.
This represents a shift from the old policy, which states that: “Simply put, the use or possession of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco products on or off school premises during an athletic season will result in the immediate suspension of the student for the remainder of the season.”
The new policy is meant to evolve; but are we moving forwards or backwards?
Principal Brian Schaffer explained that the change is about aligning our athletic drug policy with the restorative justice practices at LUHS, and allowing students to learn from their mistakes.
“We need to do a better job creating a community that is inclusive rather than exclusive,” said Schaffer.
Athletic director Tim Messier echoed Schaffer’s thoughts: “The new policy allows a student athlete who may make a poor choice, an opportunity to continue with his or her season where in the past a violation of the policy was ‘season ending’.”
Student opinion on the change was mixed.
Asked what he knew about the policy change, junior Holdyn Newell answered: “No…wait, what? What policy?”
Many staff and students who we interviewed shared confusion about the policy, including coaches. “Yes, I was aware [of the change]” said cross-country, nordic ski, and track coach Jeff Beal, “the specifics I often forget.”
Even if no one quite knows the exact the specifics, everyone seems to have an opinion on the policy change, which now totals over 500 words and includes charts to determine the length of suspensions.
Beal continued: “The idea is, if you get kicked off a team you have nowhere to go after school anymore. The likelihood that you might [violate the policy] again is higher. But if you can still practice with your team and have a goal of being able to get back in there after however many games, you’re more likely to fix your mistakes.”
Willow Morin, a sophomore athlete, tends to lean the other way: “Some [students] are breaking laws and getting back on the team.”
Morin continued: “It was very nice of the school to finally get aware of what is happening, but I don’t think that will change anything that does happen.”
Junior athlete Jasper Henderson agrees that students who get caught should be suspended for the full season, but he appreciates that the new policy allows students to seek help if they want it.
“I think that if a student comes to someone asking for help they shouldn’t get removed from their team,” said Henderson.
The new policy can be found in its entirety in the 2018/19 LUHS Student Handbook.