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My coworker used drugs with a student. What should I do about it?
March 13, 2012 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Should I confront, report, or ask a fellow employee at an educational institution about his alleged relationship/illegal activities with a student?

I am an employee at a community college. I have an acquaintance here, who I work with regularly though he is in a different department. Let's call him Frank. He is in his late 20s or early 30s.

Frank and I have played on an intramural sports team through the college together, and have made plans for social activities in the near future.

However, I just learned some disturbing information about Frank.

I work with another staff member who is also a student. She recounted what is essentially a rumor (she heard from a friend, who heard directly from the person involved) about Frank.

The original source, let's call her Leah, is an 18-year-old student. According to her, Frank invited her over to his home to engage in recreational drug use. Supposedly, they smoked "chronic" together. I am unclear on whether the definition in this case is "extremely good marijuana" or "marijuana laced with cocaine" (I know it can mean both). In any case, apparently they were both extremely affected by this drug, and Frank allowed Leah to drive herself home, which was the detail that enraged my coworker the most, for some reason.

I have checked our college policies and there is nothing to prohibit a staff member from having romantic relations with a student. However, my personal opinion is that this is rarely a good idea. There is also nothing about drug use off campus - our drug policy only prohibits the use of drugs (including alcohol and cigarettes) on campus, as well as the selling and distribution of these drugs, again, on campus. There is also nothing, legally, to keep two people of these ages apart, and generally I try to keep an open mind about age differences, but 18 is very young. In conclusion, there are several components to this rumor, and all of them together are pretty disturbing, but none of them are in direct violation of any college policy, or any law APART from the illegality of these substances.

Given that I don't know Frank very well, though we engage in casual conversation almost every day, I am trying to decide whether I should (1) cancel our future plans, (2) ask him directly about the incident (this seems like an awful idea to me!) and/or (3) report the rumor to his supervisor or to the president. I could obviously do this anonymously if I felt the need.

I am very tempted to do (1), simply because I no longer feel comfortable around Frank, so I do not want him in my home or as my friend if there is any truth in the rumor. And yes, I do know to take information filtered through the student grapevine with a grain of salt. But given that the rumor is not improbable, and has a definite point of origin, what course of action (on my part) would be best for the college, our students, and Frank (who on the whole has never struck me as a bad person, though maybe one with low self-esteem and perhaps limited intelligence)?

I would appreciate any comments or suggestions.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (44 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
my personal opinion . . . what is essentially a rumor . . . she heard from a friend, who heard directly from the person involved . . . none of them are in direct violation of any college policy, or any law APART from the illegality of these substances.

It's a rumor. Leave Frank's job out of it. If you don't know the guy well enough to say, "You know, students are saying that you're supplying them with drugs, no idea if it's true but thought you'd want to know," then leave it alone.
posted by liketitanic at 1:02 PM on March 13, 2012 [19 favorites]


I am a casual drug user and this scenario seems pretty normal to me. You are welcome to have this affect your relationship with Frank in whatever way you want but it seems like he has crossed many of your personal ethical boundaries, he hasn't done anything actually wrong as far as the school is concerned.

I guess I'd ask yourself what outcome do you want to get from this? You seem to want to get Frank in trouble despite the fact that nothing that he has done are against the rules of the place where you work. And I suspect if you go down the "This is illegal!" path you're going to find yourself not very popular [depending where you are]. If it were me and this had pushed my buttons, I might have a word with Frank just to let him know that rumors were flying but otherwise MYOB. There are thousands upon thousands of casual drug users out there who are not causing any problems in the world except the agitated state of people who feel that this sort of thing should be more against the rules than it is. Most of them are better at staying under the radar, perhaps, than Frank is.

Drugs can sometimes be a problem, sure, but other than a third-hand report of something that you seem to be blowing up into something much bigger than it seems to me, you don't really know what's up. You don't know that they're having a relationship, you don't even know what drug they were taking [chronic to me just means weed]. You feel what you feel, obviously, but you seem really bent out of shape about something that, to many people, is no big deal. My comment sums up to what liketitanic says: if you know Frank well enough to let him know about the rumor mill, by all means do that, otherwise just leave this alone.
posted by jessamyn at 1:06 PM on March 13, 2012 [32 favorites]


Nothing in this arrangement is against your employer's policies. The people involved are all adults. It may strike you as creepy or weird, but on what possible grounds are you able to improve things? I see nothing extraordinarily disturbing about a young adult dallying with someone who's a bit older than you'd expect, or smoking some pot. In fact, I'm with your coworker here - the only part of this that really pisses me off is somebody driving while under the influence of a drug.

Adults are spending time together, and they smoked pot. One of them is staff and the other is a student. You may think this is a bad idea; I happen to personally agree. But it's not against policy and there are lots of things that people do that are "not a good idea" but that, nevertheless, they are allowed to do.

If you want to stop hanging out with Frank because you're creeped out by him smoking pot with 18-year-olds, go ahead. I'd probably do something similar in your shoes. But there's a bright line between "not smart" and "wrong," and, hell, you don't even have proof, just a third-hand rumor.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:06 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


if you feel uncomfortable around frank now, based on this rumor, than do not socialize with him outside of work. if you really feel compelled to get involved, you can mention to frank that you heard a rumor about him and just wanted to give him a heads up. but wanting to report him based on a third-hand rumor for which you have no direct evidence? no. i mean, what are you going to say? "i heard from someone who heard from someone that frank…" at the least, it's more likely to reflect badly on you than on frank, and at most, you might cost frank his job based on nothing more than rumors you heard from someone who heard from someone.
posted by violetk at 1:06 PM on March 13, 2012


This is a rumor from an 18-year-old student, and you're consider reporting it to his supervisor? Ouch. Why not go to Frank the next time you see him and say, "Frank, dude, I heard a bizarre rumor about you from a student, and I thought you should know so that you can take appropriate actions. She said [recount the rumor briefly]. Can you believe that?"

His reaction will be telling. If the student is spreading rumors about him, he needs to get that taken care of. If it's true, he'll know that another adult knows, and his reaction might tell you what you need to know. And even at that point, I'm not sure you have enough to report him to anyone.

Students can invent some interesting things. My mom's a professor at a nearby school and I've had people ask me about the most bizarre rumors they heard about her. It's odd.
posted by punchtothehead at 1:07 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


there are several components to this rumor, and all of them together are pretty disturbing, but none of them are in direct violation of any college policy, or any law APART from the illegality of these substances.

If that's true, then I don't know why you're even considering option #3. Don't get someone fired because you've heard, third-hand, that they might be doing something you don't approve of.
posted by xbonesgt at 1:07 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


This sounds like a classic FOAF story ("friend of a friend"). It's not "essentially" a rumor; it is a rumor. It's quite possible that if you asked your staff member's source, she would claim not to have heard it directly from Leah, but from someone else who heard it from Leah. This is pretty common in urban legends. I wouldn't do anything unless I had heard it directly from Leah, or your source had heard it directly from her and had a duty to report such things. On preview, I think liketitanic hit the right note.

The bigger question is why you are making social plans with Frank, since you consider him to be a dumb loser (or as you put it, someone "with low self-esteem and perhaps limited intelligence"). He deserves friends who don't hold him in contempt.
posted by brianogilvie at 1:08 PM on March 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Your discomfort and judgement of his actions should be left on a personal level. Don't socialize with him outside of work if you don't want to. Keep your chit chat at work to light, non-personal topics. Enjoy the sport you play with him as the fun thing it is, and if mutual friends bring up Frank to gossip or spread rumors, lightly change the subject.

Your dislike of Frank's personal life should not harm Frank's professional life since he isn't (allegedly) violating the rules of your work place. This seems like it is more about you than Frank and my impression is that you are jealous of Frank or wanting to punish him for acting out urges that are deeply repressed within yourself.
posted by cakebatter at 1:12 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anon: "Supposedly, they smoked "chronic" together. I am unclear on whether the definition in this case is "extremely good marijuana" or "marijuana laced with cocaine" (I know it can mean both)."

OK, first of all, there is no such thing as "marijuana laced with cocaine". Sometimes when people smoke really strong weed they get agitated and paranoid and confuse the sensation with a coke-like high, but it's just really strong weed. You don't smoke cocaine.

Also, I think you really need to mind your own business and not let your judgmental attitude about what other people do in their private lives drag you into messy confrontations based on rumors. If you're actually concerned with Frank's reputation beyond the "tsk, tsk", I do think he'd be interested, if not concerned, to learn that people are spreading these stories about him. What he does with that information is up to him.
posted by mkultra at 1:32 PM on March 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


I would not repeat the gossip, and I would stop gossiping with students, staff, and faculty. It's a waste of time, a source of drama, and what if next time it's about you? Since you are full-time staff and the gossiper is a student, you're in a leadership role with her and gossiping diminishes yourself.
posted by Houstonian at 1:33 PM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am trying to decide whether I should (1) cancel our future plans,

It's your right to do so, but I would be careful not to mention that you're making this choice because you think he gets high with students. Mostly because without concrete evidence that he does, in fact, get high with students, that would be a stupid thing to tell a coworker.

(2) ask him directly about the incident (this seems like an awful idea to me!)

You are right to think so.

and/or (3) report the rumor to his supervisor or to the president. I could obviously do this anonymously if I felt the need

Let me amplify what others have said to say "Oh God No." Whether he is or isn't getting high, and who he might be getting high with, is Not. Your. Business.

That's not working. Imagine the phrase "NOT YOUR BUSINESS" written in mile-high letters of flame across the horizon. That's how not your business it is.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:35 PM on March 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


From your front page description, I thought that you'd witnessed him burying a body with one of your students. No, you shouldn't report him for this. You're totally overreacting. If you want to say anything at all, say to Frank, "There is a rumor floating around that X and Y happened." If the student is in your class, have a private chat with her that you heard she was driving while drugged, and stress that it's a Very Bad Idea. Don't mention Frank or their "relationship" (if there even is one). Then drop it - you're going to look like an idiot if you mention this to administration.
posted by desjardins at 1:37 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, your only proper reaction at work is the one you didn't mention: if you have any supervisory authority at all over the student who spread the rumor, you should tell her to stop spreading rumors.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:38 PM on March 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


This might be radically square of me, but I feel like Frank's *supposed* behavior is inappropriate and bad judgement. Yeah, college is meant for sowing one's oats -- but I kind of feel like the sowing is meant to done with one's peers, not with one's profs. So if it were me, I would work on the assumption that Frank is mature enough not to sh*t where he eats, and I would tell Frank about the rumor so that he can take whatever measures he feels necessary to protect his own reputation. If he is of low-intelligence, maybe he needs a clue that situations that are innocent but appear to be crossing a line can be enough to get him fired, under the wrong circumstances.

There does not seem to be any reason to report him -- it's only a rumor, and not even a rumor that anyone was hurt.

Regardless, it sounds like you don't really like the guy, and that is reason enough to cancel your future plans.
posted by MeiraV at 1:38 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


You don't have any idea if it's true.

You really need to, first of all, decide whether or not you received this gossip from credible sources. This supposed incident is filtered through another person. Leah could be making it up for some reason. She could be exaggerating (perhaps she did have dinner with Frank and that was it; maybe nothing; maybe it happened). Then there's the person she supposedly told, who could be making it up, or saying that Leah told her when she only heard it through the rumor chain, etc. Then there's the person who told you -- again, how do you know she's correctly relaying the truth? Is she someone you trust 100%? Or could she be trying to start something with this rumor.

So the situation is that you don't trust Frank based on an unsubstantiated rumor. That is not fair to him. You know him -- what's he like? Has he shown any inclination for drug use before?

Now, say he's innocent here but this rumor is going around about him -- he's probably going to get flack from students and faculty for an unsubstantiated rumor. Find out the truth before you go around judging people based off of rumors. Or at least let him know that there's a rumor going around about him -- you'll probably be able to tell from his reaction whether there's any degree of truth to it.
posted by DoubleLune at 1:39 PM on March 13, 2012


Frank allowed Leah to drive herself home, which was the detail that enraged my coworker the most, for some reason.

That reason is that driving while under the influence is extremely irresponsible and dangerous, more dangerous than anything else you described.

what course of action (on my part) would be best for the college, our students, and Frank

Your job is to be the best staffperson you can be, not take it upon yourself to try to make decisions for "the college, our students, and Frank."

You are encountering what is a MYOB moment, especially given the nth-hand sources of all of this, and the lack of victims and/or injustices.
posted by deanc at 1:40 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the student is in your class, have a private chat with her that you heard she was driving while drugged, and stress that it's a Very Bad Idea.

Oh, God, No. If the OP is her instructor, then he's her instructor, not her fucking life coach, and she is an adult. Keep your discussions to the subject at hand or at most on academics in general, and don't harass her about her personal life.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:43 PM on March 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


I would personally be more concerned about the "other staff member who is also a student." Spreading third-hand rumors -- especially rumors which could get other people in trouble at work -- is not acceptable workplace behavior, and she needs to figure that out before it gets her into a lot more trouble than "a friend of a friend said you smoke pot". I don't necessarily think you should tell her so, because it may lead to more gossip, but I'd at least give her the cold shoulder when she says things like this.

Other than that, I agree with cakebatter: if the rumor really bothers you, you can let your relationship with Frank cool off without making a big deal out of it, but I wouldn't do anything more than that. Keep in mind that trying to do something about this could be potentially damaging to your career and/or reputation... what happens if you make an anonymous report, Frank gets in trouble, and then your rumor-spreading student/co-worker tells everyone she told you? What happens if you tell Frank about this, and he turns it around on you? If I were you I would not get involved in this drama.
posted by vorfeed at 1:44 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


(2) ask him directly about the incident (this seems like an awful idea to me!)

This is you're only course of action. Sadly, you don't seem to have the moral upfrontness to carry that off, therefore, you must *absolutely* MYOB, and realize that rumors twice removed are worth nothing.

As for your personal relationship with Frank. Unless you're going to treat him like a human being, and ask his side of the story and set him "straight" as per your thoughts on the matter, forget about it. It's done, make up an excuse and leave him be and MYOB.
posted by Skygazer at 1:51 PM on March 13, 2012


you're your
posted by Skygazer at 1:52 PM on March 13, 2012


PS: This doesn't mean you can't keep a bit of an eye on him of course. If you see erratic, wildly irresponsible or dangerous behavior from Frank (real erratic and dangerous, without any hysteria inserted into it), I'd say you have a moral obligation to see if other co-workers have sensed that as well, and perhaps as a group ask Frank what the deal is and maybe only then, perhaps go to his supervisor.

But that's a hypothetical. Live and let live, seriously, MYOB, and move on.
posted by Skygazer at 1:59 PM on March 13, 2012


Stay out of it. Even if it's true, it's probably not a good thing for Frank to be at, but right now you're basing your opinion of him on something that originated from the teenage rumour mill. Sounds like you were totally cool with Frank before this happened. Doesn't that count for anything?
posted by futureisunwritten at 2:18 PM on March 13, 2012


This is hearsay, so you have nothing to report.

If you want to say "there's no smoke without fire" or pay heed to warnings about rumors being an early-warning system about creepy people... I've had rumors about *me* get back to *me* that were completely outlandish and seemingly fabricated out of whole cloth.

Now if you directly witnessed Frank doing something he is rumored to do, that's different. For example a Really Nice Person (TM) got really nasty with me when I had some extended private time with them. I thought it was situational until I heard someone else describing the Really Nice Person (TM) having done exactly the same to them on a separate occasion, and without knowing that I had had a similar experience.

But for goodness sake don't spread gossip. You have no real information about Frank. You can't accuse him of a crime based on hearsay (I assume giving someone illegal drugs is a crime, or at least against university policy), and you can't accuse him of sleeping with students based on hearsay and it wouldn't be very rewarding for you to do so because apparently, Frank is allowed to sleep with students. So there you go.

You can't unhear what you heard, so you might as well keep an eye on Frank, but don't play Now I've Got You You Son Of A Bitch. That's just unfair.
posted by tel3path at 2:25 PM on March 13, 2012


Don't "report" this kind of thing to your boss. I was expecting some kind of coercion scenario, or some kind of professor-student sex-for-grades creepiness or cheating or something, not fairly routine bad judgment.

Others have given a lot of good reasons for keeping out of this. I will add that the more you start "reporting" employees for what they do on their own time, the more your employer will start to think that all jobs including yours should be contingent on employees' private morality. For the moment, you think that your employer's views on morality match yours. But I sure as hell wouldn't rely on that if I were in your shoes. Next time it will be you with the inappropriate bumper sticker or unusual sexual proclivity or poorly-judged New Year's Eve debauchery at the bar. Or you'll have a conversation with a student in which you allow as how abortion is okay, or mary-gee-wanna isn't necessarily the gateway to a lifetime of crime, and you'll be up on charges yourself.

We already live in a super-snoopy, super intrusive culture that awards way too much leverage to employers. Why facilitate that?
posted by Frowner at 2:27 PM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


1. This is a rumor. Not Gospel. I don't see how this pertains to you in anyway.
2. "Chronic" is used to describe very high quality marijuana. It could be a specific strain, such as Chronic, or just a blanket term to mean good marijuana. I have never in all my years of smoking cannabis or hanging out with other tokers call cocaine mixed with marijuana "Chronic". I may be wrong, as I don't do coke, but marijuana mixed with coke I believe is a 151er. Then again, I've never heard of someone with coke wanting to put it in weed. It would be wasteful as it isn't easily converted into a smoking form, such as crack.
3. SURPRISE SURPRISE. People do drugs, in fact you probably work with many people who have little habits here and there that you have no idea about. These people are your friends, your bosses, your coworkers, and even your family. People do drugs, people in college really do drugs. Nothing to see here.
4. These are adults. They can make their own decisions, yes, even at 18. It may be shady, it may just be an activity they enjoy partaking in.... which leads me to
5. This is none of your business. Not trying to be rude, but I don't know where you get off being a rat when no one is in danger, no one is being harmed, or forced against their will. I don't see how this is your problem.
posted by handbanana at 2:31 PM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


If your ethics don't allow you to spend time with him in light of this new information, then that's your thing and yours alone. MYOB.
posted by rhizome at 3:03 PM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would appreciate any comments or suggestions.

Based on what you've written, which doesn't have a shred of proof about anything illegal or against the rules, you've coming off as a judgmental busybody. Why you're concerned about this and all set to get Frank fired is beyond me.

If you're that curious, then be decent and ask Frank what's up with the story. Otherwise, if you're still stuck you on, then stop hanging out with Frank, as he deserves a better acquaintance.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:26 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


As far as "letting" her drive home, last I checked kidnapping is still illegal. That poor decision is entirely on the other party.
posted by fshgrl at 3:41 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


And yes, I do know to take information filtered through the student grapevine with a grain of salt. But given that the rumor is not improbable, and has a definite point of origin, what course of action (on my part) would be best for the college, our students, and Frank

I cannot strongly enough disagree with your statement that you know to take information filtered through the student grapevine with a grain of salt. You seem to be intimating that there must be SOME truth to this rumor, when in reality, it could be 100% false. The best thing for the college, the students, and for Frank is to NOT report this. If someone reported a similar rumor about you, how would you go about dealing with trying to prove it wasn't true? The less time people spend worrying about being busted for something that probably never happened, the better.

If you don't want to hang out with Frank, then don't. But reporting rumors to his superiors is a horrible horrible thing. There is no way to spin reporting this as you doing the right thing. Please please please please don not do this.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:44 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is none of your business. It has nothing to do with your job. While smoking chronic (which is not a term for pot and cocaine, it's just a term for pot. also, you can't smoke cocaine unless it's been free based) may be illegal, it would be illegal regardless of the context. Would you call the cops if your neighbor were smoking pot and you could smell it when you walked by their window? (if you say yes to this, you're an ass)

Do nothing. Move on with life.
posted by imagineerit at 4:11 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let met get this straight. Someone you don't know well, told you something she heard from someone you don't know, about someone you don't know, involving someone you also don't know well, but you don't actually know if it's true? And you think there's something you should do about it?

The only thing you should do in this situation, is the one thing that actually involves you -- Don't hang out with Frank. You are far too removed to be effective, if this is a situation that needs effective action.
posted by sm1tten at 4:13 PM on March 13, 2012


Some people like to "snowcap" their bong loads with some booger sugar (not sure if it's better or worse than just doing a bump of the ol' disco dust), but chronic is just Mean Joe Green with high THC content, no coke involved.
posted by porn in the woods at 4:29 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're getting a lot of "mind your own business" answers. While I still think that the right thing to do right now is stay out of it, I have a different take on this.

Right now, it's a rumor. You haven't heard it from the person involved. For that reason, I would say that you not take any action whatsoever. Cancel your social plans with Frank if you want, but don't repeat what you have heard to anybody. You have heard a rumor through the grapevine, and have no evidence that any of the details are accurate, let alone the big picture.

However, if you hear it from Leah or if Frank mentions it — then this it's a different situation.

So for the sake of the rest of my post, let's make the assumption that the story as the OP has heard it is 100% factually accurate. (Quite an assumption, but bear with me for a minute.)

"People do drugs" isn't the issue. But the context in which these people are doing drugs seems very much like an issue to me.

I absolutely believe that what employees do in their own private time should not be their employer's business. But this isn't a situation of "Frank is a casual smoker in his own personal time and it in no way affects his ability to do his job well." Frank invited an eighteen-year-old student to his home to smoke pot (an invitation that might have taken place on college grounds), proceeded to smoke pot at his home with the student so that both of them were "extremely affected by the drug," and then allowed her to drive herself home. Regardless of whether or not the pot was smoked on campus or not, this event still involves a college employee and a student using illegal drugs together — with the added complications that Frank apparently extended the invitation (and therefore probably provided the pot), and Leah then drove home while very stoned.

This doesn't mean that Frank is a bad person, but he exhibited extremely poor judgment in this case.

(Sidetracking slightly: You mentioned that your coworker who recounted the story to you was most enraged by the detail that Leah drove herself home. I'm guessing that this is because that part of the story is where Leah may have been in actual physical danger. Most people I've met find the act of driving stoned to be akin to driving drunk. "College student killed in car accident after smoking pot at the home of college employee" would be an unfortunate headline. "College student kills pedestrian after smoking pot at the home of college employee" would probably be even worse.)

And for what it's worth, I think that educational settings are different from most other workplaces, and in some circumstances, call for different standards of judgment than others. (Example: "College employee smokes pot with student" is very different to me than "Waiter smokes pot with restaurant customer.") I really do feel that college/school employees should be held to a higher standard of judgment in regards to their interactions with students — however idealistic that may be.

The argument that this particular incident is outside of the college's jurisdiction because it is not technically in violation of any college policies is valid, but overlooks the bigger problem: this type of incident should be in violation of college policy. A student is invited over to a college employee's house, smokes enough pot at the employee's house to be extremely affected, and drives herself home? Just because this particular situation falls neatly outside the jurisdiction of the college policies doesn't mean that the college should tolerate it.
posted by hypotheticole at 4:55 PM on March 13, 2012


Step 1: Never think of this again. Even if it were substantiated, it's neither your business nor a big deal.

Step 2: Get a life. Why do you care about a rumor that's not in violation of school policy, or possibly law (you phrase this as if you live somewhere that this is at least tolerated)? I think I know why... you inserted the bit, not even supported by the rumor, that they're romantically involved. it's salacious and you enjoy the drama. Stop it now. Maybe try some "chronic" (which I've never heard in my life to mean weed+coke, undoubtably because you can't smoke cocaine, which is why crack exists).

Most people I've met find the act of driving stoned to be akin to driving drunk.

This may be true, but that awareness is also the reason it's acutally much, much safer than driving drunk and possibly safer than driving sober.
posted by cmoj at 5:13 PM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Not your business! Two adults.

Most people I've met find the act of driving stoned to be akin to driving drunk.
I find this so unlikely as to be... unlikely.
posted by Glinn at 5:31 PM on March 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


The argument that this particular incident is outside of the college's jurisdiction because it is not technically in violation of any college policies is valid, but overlooks the bigger problem: this type of incident should be in violation of college policy. A student is invited over to a college employee's house, smokes enough pot at the employee's house to be extremely affected, and drives herself home? Just because this particular situation falls neatly outside the jurisdiction of the college policies doesn't mean that the college should tolerate it.


It's none of their business either. It's the employee's free time and you are on the wrong side of the law.
posted by rhizome at 5:43 PM on March 13, 2012


18yrs old is the age of majority. These were two consenting adults.

Two points. First, while the context is not entirely clear from the OP's question, generally speaking one does not "consent" to committing an illegal act. Second, while the circumstances are not entirely clear from the OP's question, a relationship between a student and a "staff member" may implicate power dynamics irrespective of the parties' ages.

OP: I just learned some disturbing information about Frank.

Did you? "[A]nother staff member...recounted what is essentially a rumor...about Frank." Putting on my critical-reading glasses, those two sentences don't sync. I don't happen to agree with the principles espoused by most folks in this thread, but I do agree with the general suggestion that you haven't described a situation that warrants action. However, you're the guy with boots on the ground. Is Leah an at-risk student? Is this not the first time Frank's name has come up this way? Is this third-party staffer who passed along the story someone who never, ever gossips?

Use your gut. Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 7:31 PM on March 13, 2012




[few comments removed - quit embarassing yourself and keep comments helpful and answering the question. ]
posted by jessamyn at 9:46 PM on March 13, 2012


Please don't do anything that will ruin careers without at least obtaining firsthand information. This sounds like the sort of rumor that used to ping-pong around my college campus to no positive outcome for anyone. If you're worried that the woman is being taken advantage of, help her via an advisor or mentor. Nobody these days associates "chronic"' with cocaine. Please, please don't escalate rumors to felony charges without good reason.
posted by SakuraK at 10:55 PM on March 13, 2012


From the OP:
Thank you all for the responses. It was helpful to see how many of you disagreed with what I suppose were (or came across as) my personal moral objections to the incident. Many people fixated on certain phrases and choices of words that I hadn't been very aware of when I wrote the question - this was enlightening for me.

You can all relax! I do not plan on ever reporting this incident! And it was never my impulse, or the decision I was leaning toward. If anything, somehow I assumed that my reaction to the rumor was not strong enough - perhaps because I know other staff members who might have been much more upset by it.

I have not shared the rumor with anyone else.

Some of you suggested alerting Frank to the rumor, which I will consider - I think my initial distaste for that option was probably a dread of the inevitable awkwardness and embarrassment!

I'm sorry to hear that my opinion of Frank came off as negative. It's true, I wouldn't want to be friends with someone who felt that level of disdain for me - but my description of him at the end of the question was based mainly on the possibility that there was some truth in the rumor. Which is also unlikely!

Also, the reminder about gossiping is a good one. It is something I can fall into, and it is especially inappropriate to do with a staff member who is also a student. You may take comfort in the fact that I heard the rumor, said little else than "Hm..." and let that be the end of the conversation. But yes, if I could go back in time I wouldn't have let her tell me in the first place!

So, thanks to everyone who responded, including those who included some helpful information about the term "chronic"... I am not a recreational drug user, so that was good.

So, as my current plan of action is (A) not to tell anyone else, (B) to consider mentioning it to Frank, and (C) probably to give myself some time to determine how this will affect what (to me) was a budding friendship, my final question is:

Should I speak to the student-staff-member who delivered the rumor? Say something like, I think you should keep that to yourself, or it's likely that there isn't much truth in that, etc...?

Thanks again for the responses!
posted by jessamyn at 8:57 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


In your shoes, I wouldn't bring it up with the gossiping coworker/student. If she brings it up, I think I would cut her off and say that gossiping isn't professional or something along those terms.
posted by asciident at 11:23 AM on March 14, 2012


Only chiming in because I didn't catch "professional boundaries" mentioned and it may help you frame it if you ever do chose to have a discussion about it.

So right, professional boundaries, this is why this situation makes me cringe... I couldn't care less about the pot.

18 year olds are vulnerable adults... (I mean hey- the brain is still developing until you're 21!) and the relationship that he has with her is a professional one.

I (personally maybe) believe that role carries the responsibility of a POSITION OF TRUST... and professional boundaries are sooo important.

There are a lot of gray areas when it comes to professional boundaries- and that is where weirdos or dumbasses spend most of their time before slipping into the black... nothing happens until it happens or someone says it happened.

I mean assume he is not a weirdo but simply an unlucky dumbass who had a student alone in his home with him.... how could he protect himself if she decides to say he tried to rape her? Or accuse him of any number of abuses. Sure, it would probably get dismissed EVENTUALLY, but not before an investigation and a sullied reputation.

When you work with young people you need to be able to look people in the face and answer for yourself and your decisions... and that's why we need professional boundaries and that should be addressed with him before it bites him in the ass.
posted by misspony at 2:28 PM on March 14, 2012


"Also, the reminder about gossiping is a good one. It is something I can fall into, and it is especially inappropriate to do with a staff member who is also a student."

I mean this is what professional boundaries is all about! I don't imagine that there is a specific rule that makes gossiping with a student "illegal" but you are tapping into your instincts and reflecting on your practice in response to the wonderful constructive criticism in the thread... that's how things should be. The pots a red herring.
posted by misspony at 2:34 PM on March 14, 2012


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