Last March, the DLSU Health Services Office (HSO) released a Help Desk Announcement stating the implementation of mandatory drug testing for all ID 115 and 116 undergraduate students.
The testing was conducted on all ID 115 students this year in the Shalom Center from March 27 to 31. Currently, the testing is set to be done on an annual basis. Testing for 116 students is set to be done next academic year (AY), and so on. Details are currently pending as to whether batches before 115 would be included in the testing process.
On the drug tests
According to Section 1.20.3 of the 2015-2018 Student Handbook, drug testing is mandatory for ID 115 students as part of the Periodic Health Examination. It is also a requirement for clearance and enlistment for Term 1, AY 2017-2018. Students can schedule their testing through the My.LaSalle Portal.
The process lasts about 45 minutes per student, with a maximum of 400 students accommodated each day. The procedure includes filling out the necessary forms, providing a urine sample, encoding the students’ names, and getting their fingerprints and photos.
Student Discipline Formation Office (SDFO) Director Christy Santiago shares that the SDFO will serve as a “resource person” to students during the mandatory drug testing process, in case students have questions or concerns.
“One discipline officer will be present in the mandatory drug testing to make sure of the availability of the drug testing waivers. Drug testing waiver forms will be available for reference. Second, if there will be questions raised by the students pertaining to the content or reasons for the conduct of planning the mandatory drug testing, the SDFO will be the one to answer it,” she explains.
She clarifies that, for each day of the testing, there will be one discipline officer in the morning and another one in the afternoon throughout the process.
The undergraduate population of ID 115 and 116 students comprise a relatively small part of the current student population. According to data on the DLSU website, freshmen of AY 2016-2017 make up around 1,200 students out of approximately 14,000 undergraduate students.
Santiago explains that mandatory drug testing would only be done on ID 115 and 116 students “to prevent or minimize illegal challenges,” since the 2012-2015 Student Handbook made no mention of mandatory drug testing. “There are only guidelines on how to choose for random drug testing in case we will be picked up by CHED,” she adds.
In the drug tests, urine samples of students go through initial and confirmatory drug screenings. Santiago narrates that if a student is found positive in both procedures, the student and his or her parents will be invited to attend a conference with the Dean of Student Affairs to be informed of the results and to discuss issues on drug use, including intervention and treatment.
Santiago shares that no disciplinary case will be made if a student is tested positive. “There will be no disciplinary case. [We will] only identify drug usage of students and provide help, prevent usage which is a proactive approach and assess effectiveness and strengthen drug prevention initiatives and programs,” she says.
Santiago asserts that the mandatory drug testing could have several possible benefits for the school and its students. These include awareness, a chance for rehabilitation, a chance to help and educate drug users directly, and to reduce the school’s concern by alleviating the problem.
Drug culture in DLSU and the country
According to a survey conducted last year by the Dangerous Drugs Board, there are approximately 1.8 million drug addicts in the Philippines out of a total population of about 101 million Filipinos. On the other hand, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency reports that about 39,020 anti-drug operations have been conducted, 32,971 persons arrested and 27,306 cases filed in the process.
In DLSU, the drug situation remains ambiguous since most of it happens outside of campus and therefore remains unmonitored. The most recent significant case of drug peddling in Taft was back in 2014, when a student of DLSU was arrested for selling drugs at One Archer’s Place.
Jeff* (IV, BS-MKT) shares that the mandatory drug testing is unnecessary, as what students do outside school is not part of the school’s concern. However, he acknowledges the rationale that the testing serves as a safety precaution.
On the other hand, University Student Government Vice President for Internal Affairs Karl Ong shares his support for the administration’s decision to conduct testing. “Generally, I am for mandatory testing. From our conversation with the administration, I believe that this is for the common good of the University—including the safety and welfare of the students.”
He clarifies that students found positive would not be punished, although possession of drugs would result in a major offense. Furthermore, he expresses the need for mandatory testing “not only for students” if the goal is to achieve a “safe” environment.
The SDFO also conducts its own campaigns against drugs within campus. Santiago shares that these include the International Day Against Illicit Drugs and Drug Abuse, the Drug Abuse and Prevention Control Week, and the Drug Awareness and Prevention Module or SDFO Drug Education Module.
“The pilot run for this program was conducted in TREDTWO classes this current term,” Santiago says, regarding the SDFO Drug Education Module. “However, the program is designed to be conducted during NSTP, CWTS, and ROTC classes, though not yet sure as to how NSTP COSCA will pace the program.”
Names with asterisks (*) are pseudonyms.