College crimes can impact future careers

Michael Lewis

Students caught breaking laws are subject to university conduct regulations as well as penalties at the local, state or federal level. For some, the crimes committed could carry consequences that last much longer than any punishment ever could.

Since the spring semester began, the Kent State Police Department has arrested 38 people for drug violations and 81 people for alcohol-related crimes, according to the police incident log. Most of those crimes were misdemeanors committed by students attending Kent State.

Dean of Students Greg Jarvie said sometimes students do not recognize the consequences of their actions.

“A simple thing like a prohibitions (underage alcohol consumption) could eliminate a student from a job,” Jarvie said. “A DUI or a bar fight is on your record forever, and the consequences are stiff.”

According to Ohio law, people caught with less than 100 grams of marijuana may only receive a ticket because the crime is listed as a minor misdemeanor. Marijuana possession of more than 100 grams or possession of drug paraphernalia still is a misdemeanor, but a person may be arrested. But for all drug offenses, violators receive a mandatory six month license suspension even if a vehicle is not involved.

There’s more. In any drug conviction case, misdemeanor or felony, students will forfeit federal financial aid and may face academic suspension. According to the FAFSA, only after completion of a drug rehabilitation program may students become re-eligible for financial aid.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy filed a lawsuit March 22 against Margaret Spellings, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, challenging the federal law that strips financial aid from students with drug convictions.

The student organization alleges the “law creates an unfair and irrational barrier to education.” The lawsuit claims the ban unconstitutionally punishes people twice for the same crime, violating the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Other consequences that may befall students pertain to those pursuing degrees in education or criminal justice. In both areas, criminal records involving drugs, alcohol or felony offenses seriously limit, if not eliminate, consideration for employment.

Debbie Barber, assistant dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Services, said if a student in the College of Education is charged with a drug or alcohol offense, more than likely he or she will not receive his or her teaching license in this state. He or she may graduate with the degree but will not be able to use it.

“In order to be licensed to teach in Ohio, you have to have a clean record,” Barber said. “If you’ve been convicted of felonies or certain misdemeanors, it’s not easy to get licensed.

“We don’t want students spending money and investing time into a degree program to find out in the end they can’t be licensed,” she said.

Kent State Police Lieutenant Paula Rossi said if applicants have been convicted of a felony or repeat misdemeanor drug and alcohol charges, most departments will not hire them as police officers.

“For a few minutes of pleasure, is it really worth losing aid, going to jail or putting your degree in jeopardy?” Rossi said.

Contact safety reporter Michael Lewis at [email protected].