Friday, February 17, 2012

TCU's "big drug bust"

My thoughts about this tonight are in a scramble, but I feel compelled to put them in some kind of coherent order. Those of you in Fort Worth know all about it--or the media version. Long-story-short for others: in the early morning hours of February 15, Fort Worth police, working with TCU police, arrested 15-18 students and former students, some on campus and some not. Charges ranged from selling small quantities of marijuana to selling cocaine, fake ecstasy, and prescription drugs. A few undercover buys were made on campus; others in various parts of southwestern Fort Worth but there was always that connection to TCU. Not many out of a student body of what? 8,000. Still it means drugs on campus, which is against TCU policy and against the law.
Apparently TCU got complaints six months ago from students, faculty and parents about drug activity on campus. They alerted campus police, who called in city police, and an undercover campaign began. Unrelated, in January Coach Gary Patterson offered a football scholarship to a recruit and was turned down because of drug activity on the team. He ordered an immediate surprise drug test of the entire football team. First reports, from four football players mong those arrested, said as many as 80 failed; truth seems to be that five players tested positive, and a few others showed trace amounts within the margin of error. The name of those who tested positive have not been released so no one knows if the four arrested football players were among them or not.
There are so many facets to this. Many claim the punishment for dealing pot is out of proportion to the nature of the crime--and that may well be true. The analogy between alcohol and pot is a whole seperate subject. But marijuana is still illegal, and these students knew it, as did those who sold controlled substances. Yet some in the media and on social media have claimed that TCU blew the whole thing out of proportion by immediately calling a press conference and going public with it. Drug problems exist on a lot of campuses and presumably are often downplayed or ignored in the hope they'll go away. TCU chose a pro-active approach and, to use an awful old cliche, nipped the problem in the bud. I say cheers to them.
A long article in today's paper quotes a lawyer who wants the charges reduced so they don't ruin these young people's lives. Do we do that for other drug dealers? I think not. These "dumb young students set up by the cops," as one Facebook post said, knew exactly what they were doing and knew it was illegal. They got caught, and they need to pay the penalty. A slap on the wrist? Not likely to change anything.
There have been contradictory cries of "nothing will happen because they're rich and white" (there is a black boy charged and no one has any idea of the economic status of any of the charged students) to they'll be persecuted (not prosecuted, mind you) because they're TCU students and will be made an example. Probably the truth lies between. There has long been a sentiment in the Fort Worth community that TCU students, often because they are rich and go to a privileged school, think they are untouchable--my daughter, who grew up in that culture, said that to me yesterday. I can only attest to it from having driven on campus, in constant danger of having my small VW squashed by student-driven SUVs whose drivers think they own the road and the rules don't apply to them. Maybe that's the problem here--students didn't think the rules apply to them.
What will happen to these young people (two women included). A retired Canadian law enforcement officer suggested to me that they will be charged and probably given probation, but the offense will be on their record and follow them all their lives. Does that ruin their lives? Not necessarily. Many people have risen phoenix-like from much worse situtions and charges. Yes, it will forever affect their futures--no military service, etc.
Will they be repentant and try to make something of their lives, taking this as a warning sign? I'm not sure. One football "hero" shouted profanities at reporters as he left the jail after making bond--did himself no good and his school no credit. A few others--three I think--of those arrested have priors such as DUIs. Doesn't indicate lessons learned.
Bottom line for me: actions have consquences. I remember when my then-sixteen-year-old nephew locked himself out of his truck and had to walk sixteen miles back to the ranch. All the way he repeated "Actions have consequences." He learned the lesson, and I'm now trying to teach it to a five-year-old. But young men and woman from nineteen to twenty-one: they know. They took the risk, and now they should take the punishment. I wish each of them well. I hope they can rehabilitate their lives--and their educations, though they're pretty much out of TCU.
To the TCU administration: I join with others across the country who applaud the pro-active approach.
And a question: perhaps it wasn't TCU but the media who blew this out of proportion? That's hard for me, because I have friends in the media, and I know some disagree with me. But that's my take on it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well written. They did know what they were doing was wrong. They need to suffer some consequences. I just hope that is not the maximum sentences. Some jail time for all of them would probably be a blessing. BUT...I still don't understand why the media was tipped off to the early morning bust and how the police justify allowing the kids that were selling xanax, morphine continue after the first bust. Those drugs combined with alcohol are deadly. They would have had a hard time explaining to a family that they knew "X" was selling drugs but we were just trying to get him on bigger charges. How many drugs did they sell in between, before, and after? Hoping all involved learn from this. The pain has to be enough to stop further illegal behavior! Hoping all not involved can learn from the actions of these how NOT to act!