Mike S. Adams recently had a baffling column over at TownHall.com: University Awards Criminal Justice Degree to Cocaine Dealer
In a nutshell, one of his students at University of North Carolina-Wilmington was arrested for selling cocaine, spent several months in jail and had to drop out of school for a semester, but was re-admitted while continuing to serve time on weekends and was able to finish his degree, graduating with a BA in Criminal Justice on May 10th.
Now I don’t want to even get into the discussion of whether his sentence was appropriate. I have no idea what the particulars of this case were (and I doubt that Adams knows all the details either — although you can certainly get an idea of Adams’ leanings when he says “states should have the right to pass laws allowing for the execution of drug dealers”).
I also don’t particularly find the fact that he got a degree in Criminal Justice alarming or wrong — there are certainly careers in which a Criminal Justice degree would be useful and a felony conviction would not necessarily be a barrier. Sure, it’s mildly humorous, but that’s about it.
What I find bizarre about the column is:
there has been an obvious failure of leadership within the ranks of our university administration. It could be argued that a student should eventually be readmitted to UNCW even after a felony conviction for cocaine dealing. But the notion of a) only having the student sit out one semester and b) readmitting him before he even finished serving his sentence for cocaine trafficking is preposterous.
How can we make a judgment about whether the student is rehabilitated if he has not yet finished his sentence? Is there some reason why we have so much confidence in him? Or are we simply holding him to a lower standard because he is a minority? Do we just expect our Hispanic students to traffic in cocaine? Are we motivated by a racism that is almost too subtle to detect?
Since when is the university supposed to be a secondary Justice system? Should the university have some kind of parole board to consider whether someone who has been complying with all the requirements of the courts should have some additional sanctions imposed by the faculty? I wonder if Adams would be happy if the student was first required to be paddled by all of his teachers before being allowed to pay tuition and study.
My reaction to hearing a story like this is to applaud the student. And, quite frankly, to applaud the courts and the university for arranging the possibility for him to finish his degree that way. I have been somewhat appalled at my own university’s policy of mandatory expulsion for felony drug distribution charges, regardless of circumstance or students’ potential (although they do have a difficult, but possible, re-admittance procedure.)
If a student is getting good grades, earning a degree that will help them in their life, and paying their tuition… isn’t that a good thing? Shouldn’t that be encouraged? Even in those who have broken the law?
The university is in the business of providing an education. It’s not in the business of making moral judgments of people, or acting as an extrajudicial punishment organization.
I wonder if Adams would hold other businesses to the same standard. Complaining that a local grocery store, for example, agreed to sell groceries to a former drug dealer. Perhaps the store even allowed this criminal to buy filet mignon.
How can we make a judgment about whether the shopper is rehabilitated?