Back on Trac is a necessary program

Brittany Jordan
Brittany Jordan

Whatever happened to “Just say no?” Apparently taking the D.A.R.E pledge in middle school didn’t last long.

Since 2001, CSU has been operating a Back on Trac program for those that have found themselves in the office of judicial affairs because of substance-related issues. The program allows students to continue with their education while attempting to get them the help that they need so that they can get back to just saying no.

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So instead of jail or suspension from the university, students that got caught with substances can enroll in this program, effectively giving them a second chance.

I would expect people to think of this as generous. Instead, all that has come out is a lot of complaining.

Students that were effectively “forced” into this program are now coming out and giving statements saying that the program is demeaning, that it takes up their free time, that they were guilty until proven innocent — the list goes on.

Here’s the thing: it’s better than the alternatives. Depending on the charge, these students could be facing anything from a suspension to jail time. And instead people are complaining that it wasn’t a good experience.

When we were kids,  if you did something wrong, we were given a consequence to show you that said behavior was unacceptable. Back on Trac is the same thing. It’s not supposed to be fun or enjoyable; it’s supposed to be a reminder as to why drugs are not the greatest idea.

Back on Trac draws heavily from the drug court system, assigning students to clinicians and counselors, and scheduling meetings with judges every Friday. Drug tests are given frequently and the students are expected to pay for them.

The financial drain, I’ll admit, is hard for a lot of students to handle. But ultimately, it is not CSU’s responsibility to pay for them.

If you found yourself in a bad situation and are enrolled in this program, you had better find a way to get the money for a drug test. One of Back on Trac’s agendas is teaching accountability for oneself — that involves accepting the consequences that you’ve been given and coughing up the money to make it through the program.

Another common complaint that has been voiced is the amount of free time that now has to be spent in the program.

Let’s go back to our childhoods; when we got into hot water, we were most likely grounded. This is the same thing: if you can’t make good choices with your free time, that free time is taken away from you. No, it’s not fun and it sucks, but it wasn’t any fun to be grounded either. You just have to accept it and move on.

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Drug court systems have undergone rigorous research, and hold up. They are correlated with significantly lower recidivism rates and are widely renowned for being effective. CSU pioneered a campus drug court program because of these outcomes. Students may not like it, but it is tested to be effective.

Punishments are meant to alter thinking so that negative connotations are correlated with an undesirable behavior. Students are expected to be held accountable for the choices that they’ve made.

This program is targeting students whose excessive use of drugs or alcohol has caused serious consequences for themselves or others.

The particular students that were interviewed for the article that ran on Back on Trac yesterday all felt that they were placed in the program when they did not deserve to be. If that were the case, then CSU needs to take another look at the eligibility requirements for the program, and only use this as an alternative for students whose drug and alcohol use has proven to be excessive.

But overall, this program is far more generous than most universities across the nation are willing to be. Back on Trac requires high levels of accountability and is known for its rigorous compliance monitoring, but that is what it is designed to be.

Brittany Jordan is a junior psychology major. Feedback of all varieties can be sent to letters@collegian.com.