Dear Chronicle Editors:
I support the sentiment expressed in the November Chronicle editorial, âLeave Drugs At Home,â and I hope that the authorâs opinion is shared by all Harvard-Westlake students. Bringing drugs on campus or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at school offends those of us who consider our school a safe haven, a sanctuary and a home away from home.Â Â
While I agree with the essence of the authorâs argument, I disagree with one idea he/she posits: that itâs somehow okay (perhaps even expected) for studentsâour studentsâto experiment with drugs during their high school years.Â I, too, follow the news and read the statistics and know that some high school students âtry drugs by the time they graduate,â but I donât believe that âitâs fine to experiment, but not to do it here (at school).âÂ And I disagree with the statement that âWhat you do outside of school is not our business.âÂ We teachers, deans, and coaches care about our students, so if theyâre âexperimentingââeven out of schoolâitâs almost certainly going to become our business.
There is an extensive body of scientific research that supports the thesis that illegal drug use and alcohol abuse affect developing teenage brains in very negative ways.Â For that reasonâand I emphasized this in my remarks in class meetings a month agoâif we learn that students are harming themselves by abusing drugs or alcoholâeven if itâs at weekend partiesâwe will intervene and insist that they get counseling or other help. If students violate school rules prohibiting drug or alcohol use on campus, itâs likely that theyâll have to leave our community.
We care about our studentsâ developing brains, and we care about the environment weâve cultivated and are trying to maintain at this schoolâa culture that values scholarship and open discourse, and that emphasizes the importance of clear thinking and critical analysis. Itâs difficult to think straightâmuch less clearly and criticallyâif youâre under the influence of some mind-altering substance, and that is why we teachers, deans and coaches are concerned about drug and alcohol abuse,Â whether it takes place on or offâcampus.Â Â
â Dr. Jeanne Huybrechts, Head of School