Thursday, February 8, 2007

Our Survey Proposal

I just wrote this up, what do you think?

Every year, motor vehicle accidents kill 25,000 people. And yet, we do not criminalize drivers. We have tests. We have licenses. We have seatbelts. We have precautions and steps that are taken to ensure that drivers are as safe as they can be inside their big piece of steel.

Every year, cannabis accidents kill zero people. And yet, we criminalize users. We have mandatory minimum sentences. We have the Higher Education Act, which prevents convicted users from receiving financial aid. We have the largest prison population per capita in the world. We have universities kicking students out of their residence halls for merely smelling like the herb. Every precaution and step we have taken to ensure that society is safe from this herb, has been counterproductive, ineffective, and discriminatory.

Students will always use cannabis and alcohol. These two drugs have been such a fundamental aspect of education, since its inception. The students at The Academy almost certainly drank wine with their teachers after their lectures and discussed on into the evening. In fact, this was the basis of Plato’s Symposium, with Socrates gathering with some students and colleagues to discuss philosophical ideals. Regardless of school policies, even some as drastic as a zero tolerance cannabis policy in the residence halls, students will continue to use cannabis. Certain people, naturally, are risk-takers, and the people always have and always will engage in behavior that involves risk.

So the key to reducing harm is to tell students the truth. The truth that alcohol kills over 85,000 people a year and that cannabis kills zero. Almost every other weekend you hear about another student who gets alcohol poisoning and has to go to the hospital, and yet you never hear of any students getting cannabis poisoning. The truth that studies have shown that alcohol use, not cannabis use, can lead to violence. In that respect, cannabis is truly the safer choice.

It seems that the only harm coming from cannabis comes from the policies surrounding it. This survey hopes to reduce the harm, both to the faculty and the student body, allowing them to make the safer choice of cannabis and not have to worry about their jobs or living situations on campus. By asking about drug use, we hope to find that regardless of campus policies, both students and faculty still use cannabis, in most instances as an alternative to alcohol. With this evidence, we hope to prove to various parts of the administration that their current drug polices cause more harm than good, and offer a new plan of harm reduction and medical amnesty.

Procedure: Data will be collected for two weeks, from 11:30AM to 6PM, Monday through Thursday, at a designated table in front of the Beach in the Student Center. The table will have a full description of the purpose of the survey, as well as an informed consent form (attached) detailing the anonymity and confidentiality of the survey. Next to this consent form will be a small cardboard box which to slide the form inside. At the opposite end of the table will be a similar box with the survey next to it. Survey takers will be supplied with pens to take the survey, which they can do right at the table, or can take anywhere in The Beach area.

In the center of the table will be a small sign that says; this survey has been approved by The Human Subjects Review Board (hopefully) and is in conjunction with Dr. Melcher & Dr. Oplinger. A separate piece of paper will be on the table to sign up e-mail addresses to send out the results.

Much of the information in these surveys is of a very sensitive, and illegal, subject matter. If any of the confidential information were to get out, it could potentially hurt a test subjects reputation or career. As a result, a control survey will be filled out, marking all of the sensitive and illegal questions as a legal standing citizen should. This would serve as a fail safe, for example, if 100% of our survey takers use cannabis. This way, we could say 99.9% use cannabis, but there is that .1% who doesn’t do anything illegal.

Data Analysis: Results will be tallied and displayed as percentages of the whole.

Conclusion: Once the data has been collected and analyzed, the results will be presented to Interim Vice President Celeste Branham. In an effort by UMF’s Students for Sensible Drug Policy to remove all cannabis penalties from UMF’s school policies, this survey was created to demonstrate the affect of our current drug policies on our students.

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