Drug and alcohol use on campus go unnoticed

Jimmy Edwards-Turner

Three students sat cross-legged on the hill by the Cerritos College sign on Alondra Boulevard and Studebaker Road as two campus police cars drove across the grassy field to accost them.

At 11 a.m. on Jan. 25, Sergio Rodriguez, Michael Salazar and Christian Spicer planned on smoking a quick blunt before taking on the demands of school that Tuesday.

However, once traffic control officers and campus police got wind of their plans, they ended up burning any chances for a regular day of classes.

As of New Year’s Day, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is an infraction, punishable by a maximum $100 fine with no criminal record under California Health & Safety Code 11357b.

This is just one incident involving students, controlled substances and college cops.

According to Chief of Campus Police Richard Bukowiecki, campus police rarely deal with cases like these.

Unfortunately for Spicer, Bukowiecki assures that when it does happen, they will act to enforce the law to the fullest extent.

The undeclared major confessed he was able to toss the contraband before the officers arrived on scene, but traces of marijuana on his possessions led to a search.

Police found a knife on the student and issued an arrest.

“[Getting arrested] is messed up. I’m just lucky these cops decided not to get me on the weed,” Spicer said.

While campus police say students smoking pot or drinking alcohol on campus are seldom caught, other members of the school population are aware of the trend.

Business and art double major Aljen Medallo says he knows some students tend to smoke on the hill in front of the Music Department.

“Sure, it’s their right to do what they like, but at the same time it distracts other students because we’re going to ask, ‘Who’s smoking?’ as soon as we smell it.”

Although students admit knowledge of students consuming alcohol or marijuana on campus, cases of arrests or verbal warnings are not common knowledge among students.

Criminal offenses regarding controlled substances are not listed in the campus crime statistics on Cerritos College’s campus police website.

Ron Cordova, nursing major, says he has never physically seen anyone drinking or smoking, “but it doesn’t belong on this campus.

“It can be a nuisance because of odors and distractions like that but since it’s hardly seen, I can understand why there isn’t much enforcement to keep it in check.

“[Campus police] could increase enforcement a little, but not radically so. They surely can’t leave it up to students to police themselves.”

Bukowiecki agrees to an extent, saying it is necessary for the police force, and even the media, to inform and teach students the time and place it is acceptable to engage in recreational use of any substance.

“But If students could encourage each other to do the right thing, not only with the law but in all kinds of ways, they could keep this a close-knit community.”

Pragmatic students, like teaching major Francisco Castellanos, believe it is entirely up to students to use common sense and discretion if they plan on partaking of substances.

“If people want to [drink or smoke] then they should at least do it somewhere else and discreetly.

“They have to consider their peers; there are other people within their surroundings and if smokers or drinkers get caught doing that here, then they’re wasting people’s time, whether its students’ or police’s time.”