- April 16, 2023 10:12
By Maxine Alessandra B. Turiano
Far Eastern University (FEU) Office of the Student Discipline (OSD), University Health Services (UHS), and Guidance and Counseling offices are set to resume mandatory random drug testing this second semester, AY 2022-2023.
The concerned offices clarified and consulted the nature of the testing in an information session (info-session) with select students and parents last March 29.
In an interview with FEU Advocate, Student Discipline Director Albert Benni Doloiras shared that the routine activity was initially halted by pandemic restrictions.
“‘Yung info-session na ginawa natin netong this week was for the mandatory random drug testing. So we’re just informing everyone, or the public that we’re gonna resume this activity. It can be conducted anytime within the semester, and then moving forward, semestrally na talaga siya ginagawa,” he said.
Students are subjected to the testing on a random selection basis.
“Every student [has] an equal chance of being selected, and then naka-design rin in such a way na properly represented ‘yung population. Kasi, of course we recognize the fact that there are institutes na maliit lang ‘yung population, merong mga institute na malalaki. So, naka-akma ‘yung number ng mga estudyante na mag-pa-participate depende dun sa laki ng institute,” Doloiras explained.
The two parts of the testing involve the screening and confirmatory tests, with the latter only for students who test positive in the initial screening test.
The University will also be shouldering the fees for the testing.
Students’ safety and security
According to Doloiras, the University’s ‘chain of custody’ aids in ensuring the student’s safety and security when subjected to drug testing, with the test specimen and identity of the student being strictly confidential.
“Even kami, halimbawa, nagbalik na ng resulta ‘yung test, hindi namin ‘yun basta-basta lang malalaman, unless kasama kami dun sa authorized representatives na makakaalam (Even if we, for example, got the test results back, we cannot just see the results, unless we are among the authorized representatives) So, there are measures that actually are in place that can penalize persons who will divulge confidential information, not just data privacy act, but ‘yung confidentiality clause din ng RA 9165,” he shared.
Students selected will be notified on the day of testing, and will also be oriented prior to the conducting of the test.
Further, they are briefed and given a waiver that informs the students of their rights and the process of the test, as well as assuring them of their privacy.
“If a student turned out to be positive, there are only select people here in FEU that can know the status of the student. Other than that, confidential ‘yan,” Doloiras expressed.
Students who refuse to participate in mandatory random drug testing can be sanctioned as per University policy.
“Because it’s mandatory, there will become a violation of student code of conduct. So, refusal to undergo mandatory drug testing is tantamount to a major offense,” he explained.
Although students who refuse will be sanctioned, Doloiras also clarified that it is not grounds for suspecting the student of drug use.
“But even if we give a major offense to that student, hindi dapat siya gawing premise para i-assume natin na dependent or user ‘yung student (But even if we give a major offense to that student, it is not a premise for us to assume that the student is dependent or a user),” he explained.
Moreover, students who do test positive cannot be penalized by law.
“Actually, protektado rin sila ng batas. Na [kapag] ang estudyante ay nag-turn out na nag-positive dun sa random testing, hindi pwede gamitin ‘yung results for criminal proceedings, hindi pwedeng gamitin as basis for disciplinary action (Actually, they are also protected by law. That [when] the student turns out to be positive in the random testing, the results cannot be used for criminal proceedings, cannot be used as a basis for disciplinary action),” Doloiras mentioned.
Students who turn out positive for the first time are subject to guidance intervention, while second-time violators are required to take a leave of absence to undergo mandatory rehabilitation.
“On the first offense, bawal sila ma-expel, bawal sila ma-suspend, bawal sila ng disciplinary actions. So talagang intervention lang ‘to, try muna mapakiusapan (On the first offense, they are not allowed to be expelled, they are not allowed to be suspended, they are not allowed to be subjected to disciplinary actions. So it's really just an intervention, to try and talk with them first),” the Student Discipline Director said.
The mandatory random drug testing is part of the University’s commitment to a safe and drug-free environment for students.
“So hopefully, ma-welcome siya kasi nga, as students, we want you to be fostered in a safe environment without any substances that can be subject to abuse,” Doloiras remarked.
The OSD is also looking to create a drug prevention program alongside the possibility of a smoking and vaping cessation program.
More information on the testing can be found in the FEU Student Handbook, available online through students’ TAMS ServiceDeck.
(Photo courtesy of Alyssa Andrea Quiogue/FEU Advocate)