The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday June 1st

Campus Y Sponsors Drug Talk

The 35 students that attended the forum, entitled "The War on Drugs," held in the Carmichael Residence Hall Fishbowl, approached the issue from several angles, offering students different vantage points.

Cianti Stewart-Reid, co-chair of the Dinner Discussion Committee of the Campus Y, said the aim of the meeting was to allow students to express their opinions concerning the U.S. war on drugs, a national policy that seeks to curtail drug trafficking at home and abroad. "It's about people putting their ideas out and being able to bounce them off other people and see what works," she said.

The event was mediated by Campus Y Director Virginia Carson, who began the evening by saying the focus of the war on drugs has been concentrated on the supply side of the equation.

She said the government should instead refocus this attention on the demand side in terms of funding for prevention education and drug rehabilitation programs for addicts. The best way of going about this, she said, is for the federal government to issue unstipulated block grants to the states.

But she quickly opened the floor to the audience, saying the most important aspect of the dinner discussion was for students to let their opinions be known.

And let them be known they did.

Several students expressed concern that the war on drugs unfairly casts most of the blame on blacks, alluding to a multitude of possible reasons. Carson provided a handout that reported the ratio of black to white male drug offenders in all 50 states. The ratios ranged from as low as 2-1 to as high as 57-1, with the national average at 13-1.

Former Campus Y Co-president Bridgette Enloe agreed that the numbers don't add up. "People talk about the war on drugs, and people talk about African Americans' civil rights, but there's rarely an intersection of the two to see how our present drug policy might disproportionately affect African Americans."

In response, Carson suggested that "the police are taking the path of least resistance." She said police spend most of their time arresting individuals in poor, minority areas because these people tend to have less political power than those living in more affluent areas.

She also said the majority of people being arrested for drug offenses are men between the age of 18 and 34. "(This is) robbing a generation of leadership."

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