All the students who enter the Pirate’s Cove pass a sign posted there by the University stating that 82 percent of students at Seton Hall do not use recreational drugs. But many students find the statistic hard to believe.
A junior business student, who wished to remain anonymous, thinks the statistic is far from accurate.
“I smoke weed on the weekend, at parties, or just hanging out,” the student said. “It’s pretty relaxing and helps me de-stress when my coursework gets to be a little hard to handle.”
Another SHU student, a senior nursing major, said she believes more than 20 percent of students use marijuana, but she also thinks that at the time students are forced to complete the Campus Clarity survey, on which the 82% figure is based, a lot of them have not even gotten to experience what it is really like on campus.
“As I was entering college, I had never even had a beer before, let alone smoked weed,” the second student said. “That changed once I got acclimated to campus. The statistic might represent incoming freshmen, but I don’t think it reflects the whole student body.”
Ashlee Carter, the associate director of Student Life, said she believes that the statistic displayed in the University Center is accurate.
The information came from the Campus Clarity tutorial that incoming first-year students were required to take. The survey focuses on “preparing new college students for the unique challenges and responsibilities of college life,” according to the program’s website. Some topics covered within the online program include drug and alcohol use, mental health, and sexual assault and relationship issues. According to an email interview with Carter, around 1,300 to 1,500 students participated in the survey.
“I’m sure there are a few students who are not honest with their responses to any survey, but I do believe this is a pretty accurate account of how many of our students do not use drugs recreationally,” Carter said.
Many students may be deterred from answering surveys honestly because they fear repercussions for their honesty.
Diane Lynch, director of Health Services, said via email that Health Services does not question students on recreational drug usage when they sign into their appointments, but they do ask about alcohol usage and a student’s mood. However, sometimes the medical professionals that work at Health Services may ask about a student’s habits when the student shows symptoms of potential drug usage, she said.
Lynch provided a few statistics on drug usage.
“Out of the 979 charts I looked at where students were questioned on drug use, I only found one current tobacco user and three former users. In the same charts, I found one former marijuana user and one current occasional user. This seems a little hard to believe…but hopefully smoking really is losing its appeal among young adults,” Lynch said.
Caroline Driscoll, a sophomore diplomacy major, said she believes that statistic about drug use does not accurately represent SHU.
“So many of my friends feel as if they need to smoke in order to calm their nerves before going out, or as if they need to get high to have fun,” Driscoll said, referring to the recreational use of marijuana. “It’s a little disheartening to know that so many young adults feel as if they need weed in order to get through the day.”
Carter said she thinks that the nation’s shift to legalizing marijuana has caused the community to become more lax about usage.
“I think that weed has been a part of our culture for a long time and has been common amongst this age group consistently,” Carter said. “I think the silver lining of the increased use of marijuana amongst college students is that it appears that students are at least adhering to the warnings of narcotic drugs and amphetamines, as the use of those have been declining.”
Megan O’Malley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.