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News (Media Awareness Project) - US PA: Edu: Column: University Shouldn't Influence Students on
Title:US PA: Edu: Column: University Shouldn't Influence Students on
Published On:2012-02-01
Source:Globe, The (PA Edu)
Fetched On:2012-02-02 06:02:13
UNIVERSITY SHOULDN'T INFLUENCE STUDENTS ON POLITICAL ISSUES

The Lawrence Hall second-floor hallway is a commonly traveled route.
Whether students are hurrying to class or strolling to the Point
Cafe, it serves as a showcase for many advertisements pertaining to
Point Park University. Movie-poster sized ads are encased along the
walls, relaying information for student activities or upcoming
deadlines. Last week, one poster stood out from the others.

Themed with black and green type and a translucent image of a
marijuana leaf, the blown-up poster from Alcohol and Other Drug
Education hung in the hallway for a few days. Coincidentally, the
poster seemed to appear around the time that The Globe reported the
increase of drug use among Point Park students. "Legalize marijuana?"
it stated in all capital letters. "It's a plant, so it's natural, right?"

As a student who has sat through high school health classes,
anti-drug assemblies and has seen the affects of drug abuse
second-hand, I felt insulted by the poster's valley girl tone. Not
only did I find the advertisement ineffective and juvenile but also
threatening because of the political message the university
sponsored. Whether this was considered or not, marijuana stands as
more than a health issue.

My initial reaction was not concern for the facts the poster
preached. "Marijuana contains more than 400 chemicals, including most
of the harmful substances found in tobacco," was the first one,
underlining "400 chemicals" as if to achieve some sort of shock from
readers. I have heard all of these reasons before. The validity of
these statements is not my argument. However, it doesn't hurt to
mention that none of the facts listed on the poster, two of which
started out with variations of "studies show," had citations. My
response stuck with the first and last words of the poster: "Legalize
marijuana? Think again."

Legalizing marijuana is a political issue that has been on the radar
for decades. CBS News reported that government action against
marijuana was taken when Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act of
1937, or "the first step toward a complete federal prohibition."
Oftentimes, a smoky haze of dumfounded hippies protesting against the
old fogy suits is a stereotypical image of what comes to mind. In
this modern age, pro-marijuana activists include doctors and
politicians. Gary Johnson, former Republican governor of New Mexico,
is currently running for the Libertarian party presidential
nomination and stands for the legalization and regulation of marijuana.

Regardless of someone's political standpoint, it is uncomfortable to
be pressed upon. The poster set up had a big brother feel to it.
Unfamiliar with that feeling? Read George Orwell's "1984." Not that
Point Park has gone setting up creepy posters of President Paul
Hennigan's face, but the sway of opinion is there. If university
offices can post anti-marijuana statements, what limits them from
posting preference of Republican presidential candidate, Ron Paul,
due to his support of private schooling?

The administrators, board and faculty of Point Park need to remember
that they represent a large number of diverse students. One reason I
chose this school is because of its secular non-affiliation with any
religious, political or moral views.

There is nothing wrong with alcohol and drug education as it is
essential to understand risks in a college atmosphere; however, when
political messages for or against a hot topic are conveyed through
direct sponsorship of a university office, I can't help but be skeptical.
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