A wave of panic has swept through the students of Hope College since the school confirmed on Tuesday that the wastewater testing program is now being used to track marijuana use on campus.
Initially used for the sole purpose of tracing the presence of COVID-19, the wastewater testing program that the college put in place last semester is now being used for cracking down on rule breaking. The revelation of this news has been met with dismay by the recreational marijuana users on campus.
“I’m freakin’ out. I feel like I’ve gotta keep lookin’ over my shoulder now,” said an unnamed sophomore. “I’m not hurtin’ anyone. I just like to unwind at the end of the day. Is that a crime now?”
This student is not alone in their concern. Since the news broke, a large number or bongs, grinders and other paraphernalia have been found in the dumpsters behind the various residence halls, though nobody has yet been seen actually disposing of them.
Rumors of this new use of the testing circulated for almost a week before the school validated them. They seemed to have no choice but to admit to the previously undisclosed operation after junior Caleb Baker announced via his social media that he had been placed on disciplinary probation because of this system.
Specifically, a tweet that Baker sent from his Twitter account reads, “ATTENTION HOPE STUDENTS!!! Hope is unlawfully testing you for weed without your knowledge or consent. How? The freaking toilet water! I should know #disciplinaryprobation.” This tweet was retweeted more than 2,000 times and shared by Hope students on other social media platforms as well. Within minutes of Baker sending this tweet, the campus was abuzz with rumors about the situation.
“Yeah, I Tweeted about it,” Baker says. “Of course I did. The students deserve to know. If they wanna test us like that, fine, but people should at least know about it so they have the ability to choose not to pee on campus if they want.”
The administration has been under scrutiny for what some are calling an unethical operation.
“No, I would not consider it to be an invasion of privacy,” said Dean Frost. “Marijuana use is strictly prohibited on this campus, and that is made very clear in our student handbook. The wastewater that we’re testing is from our campus. It’s on our property, so we have every right to obtain and survey it.”
Despite the administration’s claims to the contrary, many students still insist that the testing of wastewater for traces of marijuana without students’ knowledge is violating their right to privacy. A group of students, led by Baker, are planning to protest the program this Saturday. They will be assembling in the street outside of President Scogin’s house where they will be smoking marijuana together and passing out weed brownies to all attendees. Baker says that any students who are sympathetic to the cause are welcome to join.