Close-up of a medical specimen cup, filled with human urine.
If you're going to Linn State Technical College, bring a pee cup. (Photo Credit: CC BY/publik15/Flickr)

Linn State Technical College in Linn, Mo., believes that college is preparation for the real-world workforce. As many employers in the U.S. drug-test employees, the two-year school in central Missouri is now requiring a drug test for college admission. New and returning students must submit a urine sample and pay $50 for it to be tested for the presence of 11 drugs, reports the Associated Press.

First mandatory drug test at a US public college

According to Linn State Technical College legal counsel Kent Brown, drug testing students in this way is the first of its kind for a public U.S. college or university.

“It does appear that our program is unique in its scope and breadth,” said Brown. “But there aren’t very many colleges as unique as ours.”

Administrators cite safety

Linn State administrators say that the drug screenings are necessary to ensure safety, as heavy machinery and nuclear technology are used and other dangerous tasks are performed. Associate Dean of Student Affairs Richard Pemberton told the AP that this treatment is no different than what graduates will experience in the workplace.

“We want them to be prepared,” Pemberton said.

Federal and state courts have upheld that drug screening is permissible for public high school and NCAA student-athletes. Students at many private colleges are also tested.

Positive equals probation

Sources indicate that Linn State Technical College’s drug screening tests for 11 drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and oxycodone. If a positive result occurs on a first-time offense, students are placed on probation but may stay in school if they participate in a drug-prevention course. After 45 days, they are tested again. If students test positive again, they’re kicked out of school. If clean, the probation remains in place, and unannounced follow-up drug tests may be given.

Civil libertarians object to invasion of privacy

Critics of Linn State’s student drug testing program consider the move a violation of students’ Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure and an invasion of privacy. Lawsuits against the college are in the planning stages.

“I’ve never heard of any other adult public educational institution that presumes to drug-test all of its students,” said Columbia, Mo., attorney Dan Viets of the Missouri Civil Liberties Association. “They’re trying to break some new ground here. I don’t think the courts will uphold it.”

Less severe than the poppy seed baby snatch

While Linn State Technical College’s drug screening policy is considered extreme by some, it pales by comparison to a drug policy on the books with Lawrence County Children and Youth Services in Pennsylvania. Reason.com reports that a mother temporarily lost custody of her newborn child because she ate a Dunkin’ Donuts poppy seed bagel the morning of her daughter’s birth at Jameson Hospital in New Castle. The poppy seeds on the bagel caused her to test positive for opiates. The oversight was corrected in five days.

Linn State Technical College: ‘Education that works’

Sources

Associated Press: http://bit.ly/pQn0rF

Linn State Technical College: http://www.linnstate.edu/

Reason.com: http://reason.com/blog/2010/11/09/eat-a-bagel-lose-your-baby

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