Administration Must Change Suspension Policies

Reese Levine, Staff Writer

Recently, several members of a Miramonte sports team were caught drinking off-campus. While underage drinking is obviously illegal, the real issue here is the administration’s response. If they want to send a strong message that drinking will not be tolerated, tougher punishments must be handed down.

After a delay, the drinking incident came to the attention of the administration. Miramonte’s Athletic Suspension policies state that if a student involved in athletics is found using alcohol, the consequences will be “the loss of privilege to participate in athletic activities for 45 school days.”

In this case, the administration declined to follow their own guidelines, and the involved players were allowed to return to school-related athletic activities after a short suspension. However, a possible explanation for this can be found in the school’s policies.

The handbook states that if any infractions of the rules occur outside of school activity, the athletes “may be suspended and removed from any team activity.” This ambiguity could be used as a basis to not suspend athletes who were caught outside of school activities. Also, any athletes violating the policy for the first time are given opportunites through intervention plans to reduce the suspension.

The problem with these loopholes is that they send a weak message to offenders. Student athletes need to understand that just because they play sports for the school they are not exempt from rules and regulations that govern the rest of the student body. In fact, they should have a higher regard for upholding the rules, as they are highly visible when representing the school in competiton.

While the administration does promote many activities and courses that discourage students from abusing alcohol and other illegal substances, in some cases, preventitive measures are not enough. The only way to stop these situations from happening again is to hand down strong punishments.

When an athlete realizes that they will not be severely punished even if they abuse a substance, they will continue to abuse said substance.

It is almost more important for first-time offenders to be punished, as they are the ones who have a better chance of not repeating the same offense because they see the consequences.

Sometimes when talking about teenage drinking, it is hard to move past the immorality and illegality of the acts, but the first step in doing so is for the administration to set up specific, unambiguous guidelines to follow when dealing with the issue.