University of Maryland to lighten some of its housing penalties

It looks like the University of Maryland, College Park is finally going to lighten up some of the penalties for violating dorm rules. For too long ResLife has used a nonsensical system that has two, and only two, severity levels of penalties. A-level penalties, which include arson, rape, assault, and somehow marijuana use, generally lead to immediate and irrevocable loss of on-campus housing. B-level penalties on the other hand, which include underage drinking and minor vandalism, just lead to citations or housing probation. While I was living in the dorms, four people I knew got kicked out on a first offense of smoking weed. It was totally unfair that they were treated the same as arsonists, and it was much more harsh than students caught drinking underage (which is also illegal, of course).

The new system is going to do away with the separate levels of penalties and just treat everything on a case-by-case basis. Arson and assault will thus still be grounds for immediate loss of housing, but marijuana usage will probably be somewhere in between them and underage drinking, leading to probation but not loss of housing on the first violation. And of course, it’s about damn time. During the 2006 Student Government Association elections, the student body overwhelming supported a referendum proposed by Students for Sensible Drug Policy calling for a reduction in the severity of marijuana use penalties. It looked like the University wasn’t going to act on it, but a year and a half later, we learn that the gears were simply grinding slowly rather than not at all. Is the university looking to preserve their highly coveted ranking as #1 Counterculture School by High Times Magazine?

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