LSESU officials and elected representatives are gearing up to start a campaign to change LSE and LSESU drug policy, switching from what they deem to be a punitive approach to a harm reduction one. The policy change will first be precluded by a fact-finding mission in which the LSESU plans to host a school wide consultation and polling to discover the relationship LSE students have with drugs.
The Union will be seeking to get a clear picture of student drug use through a survey, to be launched in late November. After that, conversations are due to start with LSE, in which the union is seeking to argue for a reform of LSE policy. Union officials have told The Beaver they seek to provide students with drug testing kits and make available more support for those who wish to be more informed about drug use or wish to tackle misuse.
LSE’s current “Student drugs and alcohol policy” dates from 2002 and details that students may face disciplinary action for possession or supply or illegal drugs, as well as “unacceptable behaviour arising from excessive consumption of alcohol”. Disciplinary action may range from formal warnings to expulsion. FOIA data reviewed by The Beaver details that no students have been formally expelled from the university following drug or alcohol incidents. However, these numbers do not represent disciplinary actions taken by LSE residences upon discovery of drug use.
An NUS report on drug use and policy at Universities released last year, found that more than half of students at UK universities have used or regularly use drugs, with cannabis being the most common drug among regular drug users. The report goes on to detail that “67% of people who have used drugs have used MDMA (…) 86% of respondents were most likely to take drugs at their place of residence (…) 64% said they feel safe when they have taken drugs”.
The NUS argues that the report also highlighted student interest in seeing institutions “adopt a less punitive approach to student drug use” and that punitive approaches may act as a barrier to students seeking support around drug use.
In a comment piece in this issue launching the policy reform, Activities and Development Officer Jack Boyd called for “substance purity test kits and a dedicated addiction counsellor on campus, creat[ing] a safe space for students to talk about their drug use, and to rewrit[ing] LSE’s 17 year old drug policy in to something that supports students, not punishes them”