This semester, Wesleyan University took a firm stance on the use of pharmaceutical study aids, like Ritalin and Adderall, by students without a prescription -- they decided that illicit use of the drugs are a violation of the university's honor code.
Although many schools prohibit the use of such drugs by students without medical need in their non-academic conduct codes, Wesleyan is among the few that forbids usage for ethical reasons, according to Inside Higher Ed. Wesleyan's vice president for student affairs, Michael J. Whaley, told IHE that use of study aids can be considered a breach of the portion of the honor code that asks students to pledge that their academic work was completed and submitted "without improper assistance."
According to a 2009 report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 percent of American college students aged 18 to 24 have used Adderall for non-medical reasons. And according to an column by Jillian Aramowicz in the Kansas State Collegian, demand for so-called study drugs on campus is high:
I personally used to have a legal prescription for Ritalin for the treatment of ADHD and I am still amazed at how many people, many of whom I did not even know, wanted to buy pills from me. Some of them I knew had substance abuse problems. Some of them were people I never suspected to be the "pharming" type.
Wesleyan's new policy has received mixed reviews from the student body, and some physicians think the argument is moot. David Leibow, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University's medical school (and a Huffington Post blogger), told Inside Higher Ed that "It only advantages [the students] in terms of their own innate capabilities. It doesn't advantage them compared to their peers." Leibow said that if universities penalize the use of non-prescribed medication because it gives students an unfair advantage, "they should probably ban coffee, studying too much or any other edge somebody tries to get without being more proficient or more accomplished."
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