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Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous

A Survey on Alcohol and Drug Use by WWU Students 

By Eli Haynal 

College parties depicted in movies and television prominently feature alcohol and drug use, but as a Seventh-day Adventist institution, Walla Walla University’s strict policy on alcohol and drug use officially prohibits such parties—however, students engage in substance use despite these restrictions. [1] 

An anonymous poll concerning substance use was advertised on The Collegian’s Instagram page. Respondents were asked about both their views of and personal experience with substance use. They were also given the opportunity to provide written responses to the topic. 

Out of 66 respondents, 48.5%** said they had used drugs or alcohol while attending WWU. However, when asked separately what specific substances they have used while enrolled, only 32.5% of respondents said they had used no substances. [2] 

Out of those who reported substance use, alcohol was the most common choice, with 27.2% of respondents reporting alcohol use, and marijuana was second, with 15.8% of respondents reporting its use. Only 13.6% of respondents said they were completely against the use of drugs and alcohol at any time. [3] 

However, any form of substance use is prohibited by the WWU Handbook and Code of Conduct. It specifically states that “while students may have varying positions and/or backgrounds regarding substance use, all WWU students are expected to refrain from the use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other recreational and/or illicit drugs.” [4] 

Punishment for violations of this policy are based on “reasonable suspicion” in addition to hard evidence, and the handbook provides a large table of observable effects that are considered. It also states that “WWU reserves the right to determine whether reasonable suspicion exists,” making the investigation process partly subjective. [5] 

In cases when a violation is determined, the handbook states that the punishment process is subjective and depends on the specifics of the case. Punishments can range from mandatory meetings with a substance abuse professional to dismissal, but the handbook says all “WWU personnel will address each situation in a way that is fair and redemptive.” [6] 

Many WWU students disagree with the substance policy as outlined in the handbook. Only 39.1% of respondents from the aforementioned survey said they supported WWU’s drug and alcohol policy. [7] 

Other respondents made specific observations about the policy: “Prohibition does not make any problem disappear. All Walla Walla’s policy does is make substance use secret and prevent meaningful discussion on addressing issues such as addiction, safety, or other negative effects.” [8] These sentiments were echoed in a large number of responses. 

Similarly, respondents voiced their frustration that WWU would punish students living off campus for violations of the substance use policy, even if these students were over the age of 21. Many respondents believed that the school should not prohibit legal substance use. [9] 

One student admitted to substance use in an anonymous interview: “I’ve had alcohol as a student and it never interfered with my work. The school’s policy blindly enforces SDA beliefs even when there is no reason to.” [10] 

However, there were also respondents who agreed with the policy. One such individual pointed out that “there are plenty of public universities that do not monitor this sort of thing as closely, and are quite a bit cheaper. If students do not agree with values, why come to a place with those values and get upset when they are enforced.” [11] 

See Also

This student was correct that other colleges feature more alcohol use on average. In 2018, the American College Health Association conducted a survey establishing rates of alcohol use on college campuses compared to a national average; 75% of WWU students were not using alcohol, compared to a national average of 40%. [12] The results of this survey are far more conclusive than The Collegian survey, as this sample size was much larger.  

Another student said, “My biggest problem with the policy is regarding students who get expelled or receive punishment for being associated with others consuming substances—there should be more grace involving these individuals.” [13] This opinion represents a sort of middle ground between supporting the policy exactly as it stands and supporting its removal. Currently, the WWU Student Handbook and Code of Conduct makes no mention of students who associate with those in possession of alcohol or other substances. 

A final student said, “I know students who recognize they have dependencies but are too scared to tell their parents and seek help as medical insurance would alert their families, but are also too fearful of getting kicked out of school if they seek help and guidance.” [14] However, the WWU Code of Conduct offers amnesty to students who self-report, and substance abuse counseling is an avenue open to students in need. 

Whatever students’ opinions on substance use, it is a medical fact that sustained use can lead to addiction and other detrimental psychological and physical health effects. To help combat addiction, the WWU Counseling and Testing Center offers free counseling sessions to University students. Their staff of therapists are prepared to discuss substance abuse with clients, and they also have a substance use/abuse specialist who counsels through the school. [15] 

Such counseling sessions are protected by confidentiality laws. Therapists may only break these laws in cases when the client is threatening their own life or the life of another, or in cases where child or elder abuse is involved. [16] These regulations may help to reassure students that counseling is a safe and helpful way to deal with substance dependency. 

**This statistic is not representative of the whole student population. 

  1. Anonymous Collegian Survey, 3/1/2021. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Walla Walla University. WWU Student Handbook and Code of Conduct. WWU. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/30e9Cwz. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Anonymous Collegian Survey, 3/1/2021. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Interview with an anonymous WWU student, 3/4/2021. 
  1. Anonymous Collegian Survey,  3/1/2021. 
  1. American College Health Association – National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA) national survey. 3/4/2021. 
  1. Anonymous Collegian Survey, 3/1/2021. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Walla Walla University Website. Our Counseling Process. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/3bYWwZE. 
  1. Ibid. 
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