Republicans Unveil Tough Anti-Drug Plans
WASHINGTON--Schools and colleges could be forced to expel students convicted of drug use, and those students could lose their federal financial aid, under harsh anti-drug proposals being advanced last week by members of the Congress and Administration officials.
A coalition of conservative senators unveiled a package of anti-drug measures that includes barring anyone convicted of a drug offense from receiving student aid and restricting drug-education grants to schools with tough suspension and expulsion policies.
The strategy, which its proponents claimed could rid the country of drugs by 1995, also would include greatly expanded drug testing, harsher penalties for traffickers, and the denial of drivers' licenses to convicted drug users.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet-level National Drug Policy Board, chaired by Attorney General Edwin Meese 3rd, was at work on a similar package.
Proposals being considered by the board include making convicted users ineligible for drivers' licenses and benefits such as student aid and public housing, as well as cutting off federal aid to colleges that do not expel students convicted of drug offenses.
"We must be more aggressive in depriving the seller of the user,'' Senator Rudy Boschwitz, Republican of Minnesota, said at a news conference at which the eight senators presented their anti-drug package.
Heritage Foundation Meeting
The briefing kicked off a conference on drug policy at the Heritage
Foundation, a leading conservative think tank. One of the conference
panels included William Kristol, chief of staff to Secretary of
Education William J. Bennett.
Although the Secretary has made fighting drug use one of his top priorities, Mr. Kristol said the Education Department does not support most of the proposals discussed last week.
Mr. Bennett wants to restrict grants awarded under the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to schools that can show progress, Mr. Kristol said, but the department does not support the senators' proposal to require automatic suspensions and expulsions for drug use.
"We don't think we should specify exactly what should be done'' in every school, he said, adding that the same principle applies to colleges.
While the Administration's board is reportedly considering a policy that would cut off aid to colleges that did not automatically expel convicted students, the senators specifically targeted institutions not complying with a provision of the Higher Education Act that requires them to have anti-drug programs in place.
"All that means is that they have to check a box on a form,'' Mr. Kristol said. "The question is whether we should require more.''
Mr. Kristol supported the idea of making convicted drug users temporarily ineligible for student aid, but without great enthusiasm.
"We're not enforcing the laws we have,'' he said. "This would only apply to people who were convicted, and the basic first-time user is not going to be convicted.''
Besides, he added, to someone who has already been convicted, loss of student aid would seem like a comparatively minor nuisance.
Although he argued that schools should not be forced to adopt particular policies, Mr. Kristol said at the conference that strict school policies that involve parents are more important than education programs in ridding schools of drugs.
"You can create schools without drugs even if the society around the school is more drug-riddled than we would like,'' he added.