Anxiety rises quickly in the face of tight deadlines and the pressure for high achievement. While it is, of course, difficult to cope with heightened stress, the unauthorized use of cognitive-enhancing drugs not only poses a dangerous physical and legal risk to students, but is also a blatant form of cheating. The university should therefore move to classify it as such.
A survey conducted on campus in 2010 indicated that less than 10 percent of the Georgetown population self-reported themselves as consuming psychostimulants such as Adderall, Ritalin or Vyvanse without a prescription. Although Georgetown’s numbers are below the national average, any level of prescription drug abuse on our campus is cause for concern.
Medications like Adderall are carefully prescribed to level the academic playing field for students who are affected by legitimately documented academic disabilities. Buying and selling these drugs without doctor supervision effectively puts academic performance up for sale and violates the same level playing field these medications were originally described to create. Furthermore, pushing their trade and consumption into the shadows drastically decreases the drugs’ safety.
The Georgetown Academic Honor Code does not yet explicitly refer to the illegal use of drugs as a form of cheating, instead it notes only that cheating is the use of unauthorized materials, information or study aids. This opens the door for students illegally consuming these drugs to hide behind the code’s ambiguity toward drugs, even if they know they are breaking federal law by taking prescription drugs without a proper prescription.
The university should explicitly outline how performance-enhancing drugs constitute a form of academic dishonesty and educate students about their use and misuse. Georgetown is a stressful place, but it is also a university with a clear set of values that deserve adherence.
Coffee, Monster Energy and 5 Hour Energy are commonplace in Lau. But going beyond these study aids by illegally consuming prescription cognitive-enhancing drugs poses not only a danger to oneself, but also to the rest of the Hilltop.
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