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SGA senators question drug policy during Wednesday’s meeting

SGA senators question drug policy during Wednesday’s meeting

SGA senators question drug policy during Wednesday’s meeting
September 21
15:18 2019

The SGA Senate moved closer to voting on their first resolution of the semester last Wednesday, where senators questioned a resolution aiming to reform UNT’s treatment of first-time drug offenses.

The resolution, created by members of a UNT organization called Students for Sensible Drug Policy, calls for the removal of several consequences currently imposed by UNT for some drug offenses, including loss of on-campus housing, suspension and expulsion.

Devon Skinner, a senator for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, presented the resolution to senators and answered questions regarding its contents, co-authored by former CLASS senator Shane Warren and members of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Former SGA President Muhammed Kara vetoed the resolution when it originally passed by the senate in April.

“This [resolution] ensures that for first time drug offenses in which you were curious or you were just being dumb and doing drugs when you shouldn’t have, this ensures that you have the opportunity to learn from that and make the right decisions moving forward,” Skinner said. “We aren’t saying that there shouldn’t be penalties. We’re saying that there’s too many penalties. And there’s not enough chance for rehabilitation or an educational response to that.”

Current UNT policy treats offenses involving alcohol or marijuana with less severity than other illegal drugs by not considering suspension, expulsion or loss of housing for first time infractions, unless the incident involves large amounts of substances or repeat offenses.

The resolution makes reference to several statistics on alcohol use among college students, but no information regarding other schedule one drugs the bill would target. CLASS senator Daniel Ojo asked about the framing of the resolution’s statistics.

Senator Daniel Ojo, questions a proposed bill during the SGA meeting on September 18, 2019. Image by Jacob McCready

“Where are the stats on other schedule one drugs that you are trying to decriminalize on campus?” Ojo said. “Because your resolution is framed to demonize alcohol, which is fair, but just because you’ve done that does not mean that you’ve successfully proven to the senate or to housing that psychedelics or opioids are good or better than [alcohol].”

Skinner said the bill references alcohol to combat misinformation about the substance among students.

“Our attempt is not to demonize alcohol but rather to explain its affect on the student body in a way that might not be understood by the student body,” Skinner said. “… We don’t believe that it’s truly understood by the student body compared to other drugs that are demonized.”

Multiple other senators asked about the statistics referenced in the resolution, prompting Speaker Angie Whistler to repeatedly suggest moving forward with different questions. The questioning period lasted for around half an hour.

Senators may offer input on the resolution other than questions during the proposal’s discussion period next Wednesday, when the SGA Senate convenes again in Union room 332.

Featured Image: SGA members meet in the UNT Union senate chamber to listen to proposed bills like The Fair Disciplinary Action for Drug Policy Violations bill on Wednesday Sept. 18, 2019. Image by Jacob McCready

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Carter Mize

Carter Mize

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