January 24, 2022

Do Colleges Drug Test: Policies Explained

January 24, 2022
Do Colleges Drug Test
For some drugs are part of the college experience. But do colleges drug test? If so, who and when? Read here to learn more.

Drug testing is expected in some cases. For example, if you’re applying for a corporate job, or a position that requires you to operate heavy machinery. Some delivery companies require drug screening, and it’s almost mandatory with any government-level role. Strangely, there are some places where you wouldn’t expect to need a clean drug test. One of those places is at a university. Do colleges drug test? Is it a requirement for students, or just teachers? Before you head off to the dorm for your first semester, read on to find out what the likelihood is that you’ll be asked to pass a drug test

Drug Testing General Overview

What is the reason for drug testing anyway? Especially with the increase of states that have adopted medical and recreational cannabis programs. It would seem like THC doesn’t belong on the standard five or nine-panel drug tests, yet it remains a top reason why people fail a urinalysis. 

The reason for testing depends on the situation. Some jobs, especially those concerning public health, require that employees be on top of their game while on the clock. City bus drivers, medical professionals, and police officers are a few roles where sobriety and safety are non-negotiable. 

Even in states with legal weed, federal employees have no protection when it comes to smoking pot. It’s simply not allowed. As for private employers, they have the right to establish their own rules, as seen in many corporate drug testing policies. Yet, mega-giants like Amazon, surprisingly do not enforce drug testing, even for their delivery drivers. Of course, you still can’t be inebriated while working, and even the most relaxed workplaces will ask you to pass a drug test if you’re exhibiting strange or dangerous behavior at work.

While mandatory drug testing is unfair in many cases, it’s not just weed that is cause for concern. Amphetamines, cocaine, opiates, and PCP are on standard drug tests and can certainly cause impairment on the job. Workplace injuries and accidents are bad for the individuals involved, as well as the organization. 

College Drug Testing Policies

Drug testing at universities is not as uncommon as you might think, even though the concept of being drug-free while getting your undergrad seems bizarre. However, common sense tells us that no one should be drunk or high on campus, and both private and public institutions forbid it. So what are the rules? Are teachers drug tested? What about students? Let’s look at the varying conditions and requirements for college drug testing policies.  

Do Colleges Drug Test Students?

College is a time when many young adults experiment with drugs, alcohol, sex, and their own identities as they learn to navigate the world as adults. It’s a time to live in the moment and take risks, and for anyone that has attended university, you are well aware of the party culture associated with being an undergrad. It comes with the territory, and for many people, college memories live on as fond reminders of youth. 

Of course, that isn’t the case for everyone, and 25% of college students report adverse effects on their academic performance because of heavy drinking. Since drugs and alcohol often go hand in hand, it’s no secret that heavy drug use can also have negative consequences on students’ grades, as well as physical and mental health. But is drug testing college students legal?

For new students at Linn State Technical College, drug testing was a mandatory admissions prerequisite until it was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2013. Now, most universities simply enforce their drug-free campus policy that states no one is allowed to use drugs on campus property, including parking lots and dorm rooms.

In the event of a crime committed on campus, drug testing may be required as a part of the investigation. Students living off-campus, just remember to leave your weed at home and not in your parked car at school. 

Do Colleges Drug Test Student Athletes?

The average student might not be subject to drug testing, but the same can’t be said for students participating in extracurricular activities. Professional sports leagues like the NFL and NBA have drug testing policies, so it isn’t far-fetched to assume that college athletes must also be free of performance-enhancing drugs or illicit substances. 

The purpose of drug testing college athletes is primarily to prevent them from using steroids, peptide hormones, and other illegal performance-enhancing drugs. If a school is a member of the National College Athletic Association (NCAA), student athletes will also be drug tested for recreational drugs like marijuana during championship games. 

This comes as no surprise to aspiring college athletes, who are given notice that drug testing is imposed as often as every other week in order to compete in their sport. The NCAA has its requirements, and universities may also establish their own drug testing policies for student athletes. 

Do Colleges Drug Test Employees?

Colleges and universities employ dozens if not hundreds of staff. Administrators like the President and Provost, professors, instructors, and campus staff are all employees of the university. As employees, some of these staff (location dependent) are subject to pre-employment and randomized drug testing. 

Again, drug testing for university staff largely depends on the organization itself, and the job performed. As a general rule, campuses are drug-free workplaces. However, if you work in the school cafeteria, you likely won’t be asked to take a random test. If you drive a bus or work in campus healthcare, you probably will have to pass a drug test.

Even for colleges with lenient drug testing policies, suspicious behavior or the blatant inability to perform one’s job will likely lead to a drug test. A failed drug test can lead to suspension, termination, or employment pending drug counseling and a passing test.

To Summarize 

  • Most universities enforce a drug-free campus policy.
  • College students do not have to take a drug test prior to admission.
  • College athletes are subject to frequent drug testing to participate in their sport.
  • University staff is subject to drug testing as some (but not all) colleges.

As with all places where you’ll live, work, and spend most of your time – do your research on drug policies. Ask questions, do your research before putting yourself into a situation where you may have to take a drug test, and always be ready to pass one in a pinch if necessary.


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