Hiett Drug Controversy

Alicia Bones

Over winter break, Nancy Truesdell, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, sent a mass e-mail to the Lawrence community informing students about the discovery of “potentially harmful chemicals in a student room in Hiett Hall.”She went on to say that the alleged drugs were found during a routine check of student rooms and that the police had been contacted.

At the time of the e-mail, students involved were potentially facing “criminal, drug-related charges” as well as “disciplinary action by the college,” according to Truesdell. The Appleton Post-Crescent reports: “State and federal drug agents are assisting Appleton police with the investigation into a drug lab that was found in a Lawrence University dormitory. Sgt. Pat DeWall of the Appleton Police Department said no arrests have been made…He said investigators are waiting for results from evidence that was sent to the state Crime Lab, and expects those results soon.” At this point, The Lawrentian can do little to shed light on the incident because it is part of a police investigation, which may be compromised by the leaking of additional information.

Currently Truesdell cannot give any additional information. Her only comment was, “There is an ongoing police investigation regarding illegal activity, and the college does not comment on such matters.”

The alleged possessors also seem to know very little about their fate. In an e-mail, one of the students involved said that the university is “telling us [the students involved] very little about our situation now.”

A student involved with the incident wrote confidentially that the students living in the room with the illegal substance have been suspended, as he said, “without trial” until charges have been filed.

The student also wrote that the suspension “seems to violate the innocent until proven guilty mantra of our legal system.”

The student encourages Lawrentians to write e-mails to Nancy Truesdell and to President Beck on behalf of the suspended students and the affront to “due process.” The student is disapponted by Lawrence’s handling of the situation.

Lawrence may or may not be within the boundaries that govern the campus if the student’s information is accurate. Lawrence’s Drug-Free Campus Policy states that “the university is not a sanctuary protecting those who violate laws regulating the use of drugs or alcohol, and university officials will cooperate with legal authorities whenever necessary.”

The student handbook, however, states that “a student placed on suspension will be given timely notice of the reasons for the action and the opportunity for a hearing.”

More questions about school policy have arisen since Truesdell’s e-mail.

Only time will tell who is at fault in this situation. The sole conclusion that can be drawn now is that necessary indefiniteness and a police investigation make it impossible to know the truth about this troubling situation.