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Cocaine: A Report From the Front Lines

One of Dartblog’s roving reporters has filed a piece on cocaine use at the College.

Cocaine use is widespread among undergraduate students at Dartmouth — at least in the Greek system. It is not necessarily the undisputed “drug of choice,” but it is interesting to note that cocaine is almost as widely used as pot, a reality that is out of step with both national drug abuse statistics and increasingly harsh criminal sentencing for hard drug possession.

Judging by my experiences, it seems that about half of all fraternities have a contingent of regular coke users, and a handful of sororities do as well. These people all tend to know each other: another one of those “open secrets” on campus. In my sorority, as in others, the cocaine often comes from sisters affiliated with secret societies. It is unclear to me how the drugs originally get to campus, but it is interesting to consider the secret networks through which they are distributed and within which they are used.

I was surprised when the SAE cocaine scandal in 2010 didn’t seem to affect student behavior on the drug issue. After that event, members of my sorority and friends in fraternities continued to use cocaine within their houses. Many houses have had or still often have colorful events involving cocaine—from one house’s “All Surfaces Party” to another’s “Magic Monday” event. I don’t want to call out specific houses, but one widely used nickname is Kutta Kutta Gamma, and if you want to track students who use coke, looks for brothers with prominent delts.

It is not a secret that some houses move around money in a minor way to pay for the drugs. I have heard of one case where a friend at a fraternity was not deemed fit to be elected treasurer because he wouldn’t manipulate the finances to free up money for the house to spend on cocaine and other drugs.

Additionally, one friend in another house has remarked that magic mushrooms are used in their pledging events — in addition to the alcohol that obviously plays a large role.

Drug use is a personal choice at Dartmouth and I have never heard about anyone pressured to use cocaine or other hard drugs. I also doubt that the administration is equipped to deal with the problem, on top of the fact that it is not necessarily their area of jurisdiction. However, hard drugs are certainly a part of the scenery in the Greek system, and the example of members of other houses getting busted for them predictably hasn’t done much in the years since to dissuade members of my house or other houses to stop using them before or during large parties.”

Addendum: One of our favorite writers at The D, Natalie Colaneri, recently published a column on abuse by students of Adderall, a narcotic usually prescribed for various types of attention deficit disorders, but which is now widely used by undergraduates as a “study drug.”

Dartmouth College Health Services declined to provide me with statistics regarding prescription drug misuse on our campus. Through my interviews with students from different parts of the Dartmouth community, however, I gained some interesting insight into the wide-ranging perceptions of study drug misuse. Some students didn’t observe much use of study drugs on campus, while others perceived high usage rates. For example, one varsity athlete believed that 70 percent of Dartmouth students used these drugs, commenting that everyone on his team and almost everyone in his fraternity used Adderall or other ADHD medications when they were struggling to complete their work, particularly during finals period.

On average, the students I interviewed thought that about one quarter of Dartmouth students have used study drugs. Granted, this statistic is based on student perceptions of study drug misuse, which may not accurately reflect the actual percentage of Dartmouth students who misuse these drugs. However, research on prescription drug misuse on other college campuses shows an even higher statistic, and this is cause for concern.

A number of faculty members have also commented to me that the use of narcotics for various psychological afflictions is high among students. The College should release any information that it possesses on these subjects.

Also, how curious that a columnist at The D is writing on this subject; one would think that topics like this would be fodder for The D’s intrepid investigative reporters.


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