Southwestern Michigan College is committed to providing an alcohol, drug-free, healthy and safe environment. To promote this goal, employees and students are required to abide by the college’s Drug and Alcohol Policies as found in the Employee and Student Handbooks:
While on Southwestern Michigan College premises and while conducting business-related activities off of Southwestern Michigan College's premises, no employee may use, possess, distribute, sell or be under the influence of illegal drugs, or be intoxicated. The legal use of prescribed drugs is permitted on the job only if it does not impair an employee's ability to perform the essential functions of the job effectively and in a safe manner that does not endanger other individuals in the workplace.
Violations of this policy may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including immediate termination of employment and/or required participation in a substance abuse rehabilitation or treatment program.
While on college premises or at college sponsored events (including clinical and observational settings), use, possession, manufacturing or distribution of alcoholic beverages (except as expressly permitted by college regulations) as well as use, possession, manufacturing or distribution of marijuana, narcotics or other controlled substances (except as expressly permitted by local, state and federal law) are violations of the Student Code of Conduct. This includes public intoxication and possession of drug paraphernalia. It should be noted that the student may be found responsible of an alcohol or drug violation even if they are only a passive participant.
Current sanctions for students found responsible for an alcohol violation are as follows:
1st Offense 2nd Offense 3rd Offense $200 fine and/or community service, educational activity $300 fine, potential removal from housing, parental notification $400 dollar fine, removal from housing, parental notification, possible college suspension
Current Sanctions for students found responsible for a drug violation are as follows:
1st Offense 2nd Offense 3rd Offense Drug Violation-Dealing College expulsion, police involvement Drug Violation-Paraphernalia $200 fine and/or community service, educational activity, possible removal from housing, police/parental notification possible Removal from housing, police/parental notification College suspension, police/parental notification Drug Violation-Possession/Use $400 fine (non-housing), removal from housing, educational activity, possible parental notification, police notification College suspension, possible college expulsion, police notification College expulsion, police notification
In addition, students who have been accepted into the college’s nursing program may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from the program.
Potential Legal Consequences
Violations of laws and ordinances relating to drugs and alcohol also may result in misdemeanor or felony convictions accompanied by the imposition of legal sanctions, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Fines as determined under local, state or federal laws;
- Forfeiture of personal and real property;
- Denial of federal benefits such as grants, contracts and student loans;
- Loss of driving privileges;
- Required attendance at substance abuse education or treatment programs.
Federal Drug Sanctions - A full description of federal sanctions for drug felonies can be found at: https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/drug_of_abuse.pdf#page=30.
State Alcohol Sanctions - Under Michigan law, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase, consume, possess or have any bodily content of alcohol. The following summarizes some of the potential legal consequences for violating state law:
- A first-time conviction may result in a fine, substance abuse education and treatment, community service and court-ordered drug screenings.
- There also is a provision for possible imprisonment or probation for a second or subsequent offense.
- The use of false identification by minors in obtaining alcohol is punishable with a fine, loss of driver's license, probation and community service.
- Individuals can be arrested and/or convicted of operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level at .08 or higher. If a student is under 21, there is a "zero tolerance" law in the state of Michigan, and any blood alcohol level of .01 or higher can lead to a minor in possession (MIP) citation as well as being cited for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, if applicable. This is in addition to suspension of driving privileges in the state of Michigan.
Michigan Law Governing Medical Marijuana – The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act of 2008 and the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act of 2018 permit qualified persons 21 years of age or older, patients and their primary caregivers to use, possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana for personal use and treatment of certain debilitating medical conditions. However, these laws conflict with federal criminal laws governing controlled substances, as well as federal laws requiring institutions receiving federal funds, by grant or contract, to maintain drug-free campuses and workplaces. The college receives federal funding that would be in jeopardy if those federal laws did not take precedence over state law. Thus, the use, possession or cultivation of marijuana in any form and for any purpose constitutes a violation of Southwestern Michigan College policy and student conduct code.
Health Risks Associated with Substance Abuse
Considerable health risks are associated with the abuse of controlled substances. Substance abuse dramatically impairs employee and student performance, contributes to absenteeism and presents safety risks for not only the abusing employee or student, but also to others within the college community. The following are general descriptions of some of the health risks associated with substance abuse from the National Institute of Drug Abuse Website, https://www.drugabuse.gov.
ALCOHOL: Loss of concentration and judgment; slowed reflexes; disorientation leading to higher risk of accidents and problem behavior; risk of liver and heart damage, malnutrition, cancer and other illnesses. Can be highly addictive to some persons.
AMPHETAMINES: Can cause rushed, careless behavior and pushing beyond your physical capacity leading to exhaustion; tolerance increases rapidly; causes physical and psychological dependence; withdrawal can result in depression and suicide. Continued high doses can cause heart problems, infections, malnutrition and death.
CANNABIS: Can cause permanent damage to lungs, reproductive organs and brain function; slows reflexes; increases forgetfulness; alters judgment of space and distance.
COCAINE: Causes damage to respiratory and immune systems; induces malnutrition, seizures and loss of brain function. Some forms (such as “crack”) are highly addictive.
HALLUCINOGENS (PCP, LSD, Ecstasy): Causes extreme distortions of what's seen and heard; induces sudden changes in behavior, loss of concentration and memory; increases risk of birth defects in user's children; overdose can cause psychosis, convulsions, coma and death. Frequent use can cause permanent loss of mental function.
INHALANTS (Nitrous Oxide, Amyl Nitrite, Butyl Nitrite, Chlorohydrocarbons, Hydrocarbons): Causes nausea, dizziness, fatigue, slurred speech, hallucinations or delusions; may lead to rapid and irregular heart rhythms, heart failure and death; long-term use may result in loss of feeling, hearing and vision; can result in permanent damage to the brain, heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.
NARCOTICS (Heroin, Morphine, Opium, Codeine): Highly addictive; tolerance increases rapidly; cause physical and psychological dependence; overdose can cause coma, convulsions, respiratory arrest and death; leads to malnutrition, infection and hepatitis. Sharing needles is a leading cause of the spread of HIV and hepatitis.
SEDATIVES: Tolerance increases rapidly; produces physical and psychological dependence; cause reduced reaction time and confusion; overdoses can cause coma, respiratory arrest, convulsions and death; withdrawal can be dangerous; in combination with other controlled substances can quickly cause coma and death.
Availability of Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation Counseling
Employees with drug or alcohol problems that have not resulted in, and are not the immediate subject of, disciplinary action may request approval to take unpaid time off to participate in a rehabilitation or treatment program. Southwestern Michigan College health insurance may cover such treatment (please review the health insurance summary plan document). Leave may be granted if the employee agrees to abstain from use of the problem substance; abides by all Southwestern Michigan College policies, rules, and prohibitions relating to conduct in the workplace; and if granting the leave will not cause Southwestern Michigan College any undue hardship.
Students may receive limited on-campus substance abuse counseling by request through the Concerns Reporting system which can be accessed online at swmich.edu/concerns.
Employees or students seeking confidential substance abuse treatment and counseling can contact Woodlands Behavioral Healthcare Network at their 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-800-323-0335 or 269-445-2451 or United Way of Southwest Michigan by dialing 2-1-1. If you are outside of Berrien and Cass Counties you can call 1-844-875-9211. A list of resources is also available online at www.mi211.org
The college will provide students and employees with a copy of the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Program Notice annually via college email distribution.
New employees and faculty will also be required to sign acknowledgement forms of these terms at new employee and new faculty orientations. A copy of the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program Notice and the above provisions of these procedures also will be posted on the college website.
The college will also include the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program Notice in student and employee handbooks.
The college shall conduct a biennial review of the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program to 1) determine its effectiveness and implement changes, if needed, and 2) determine the number of drug- and alcohol-related violations and fatalities that occur on campus or during college activities and are reported to college officials.