Stephanie is a senior reporter for the Rotorua Daily Post.

Mixed reaction from students to drug testing

1 comment

A Waiariki student says he was not fazed by compulsory drug testing because he had already stopped doing drugs in order "to make something" of his life.

Waiariki Institute of Technology, before its formal merger with Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, introduced compulsory drug testing for trades students at the beginning of this year.

The move has been cited as one of the reasons for a drop in enrolments on its trades courses, though the decline has also been attributed to the merger and declining unemployment rate.

The student, who spoke to the Rotorua Daily Post on the condition of anonymity, said while he was not a regular drug user, he used to take cannabis "once and a while" with mates.

But he was eager to upskill so looked into the trades courses available at Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic.

"As soon as I decided I wanted to make something of my life I knew I would quit drugs completely and so when Waiariki introduced compulsory drug testing, it didn't really faze me because I knew I would be clean."

But he said other students in his course were not so confident.

"There were a lot of anxious people after the test, especially because it takes a while for some tests to come back.

"I think there was a toss up between the people who were happy to have the testing done and those who were a bit more reluctant.

"I have friends who won't quit doing drugs because it's a habit for them, it makes them feel normal. For them, the compulsory drug testing would put them off doing a course."

He said the practical aspects of the course felt safer knowing nobody would be under the influence.

Waiariki Student Association president Virgil Iraia said there had been a few "negative murmurs" from students.

"We know some people like to have a smoke here or there and we as an association can't stop that happening. Those interested in enrolling for a trades course are made aware of the compulsory drug testing at the beginning and are encouraged to clean up so they continue with the course.

"I'm not surprised drug testing has put off some students because we have dealt with a few cases of students coming to us after failing a test saying they had a smoke a couple of weeks back and it was just a once off.

"There was one student from a regional campus (outside Rotorua) who came to us after failing her test. She was wanting to know the process of getting a 'second chance' because she was committed to cleaning herself up but was not in a financial position to pay for the second test.

"In those cases we are able to help because the student is being proactive about making positive life changes."

Mr Iraia said the general attitude from students was they knew the testing was happening so just had to deal with it.

"Those that have expressed negative opinions we try educate about the importance of being on the ball and not under the influence - not only at Waiariki but in their future workplace too."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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