Case 3: Controlled Substances

*Based on true cases, names and information have been changed.

Students Involved:
Mike Price
Chris Warner
Matt Miles
Alexandra Washburn

Incident Report:

"At approximately 4:20pm on Thursday, March 5, Resident Director On-Call Galen Lee received a phone call on the RD On-Call cell phone from Clark Hall Resident Assistant Justin Carnegie. Justin told Galen that he could smell something that smelled like marijuana-smoke in the hallway on his floor of Clark Hall. Justin said that he believed that the smell might be coming from Clark Hall room 315. Galen said that he would meet Justin on the second floor in front of room 315.

Galen walked to the second floor of Clark Hall and met Justin in front of the room. Galen could smell an odor that was marijuana-like. It seemed to Galen that the smell was coming from behind the closed door of room 315. Galen and Justin could hear several voices inside the room. Justin knocked on the door to the room, announcing who he was as he knocked. The voices inside the room seemed to grow very quiet and nobody answered the door. Justin knocked a total of three times on the door before anyone answered the door. On the third time, the door was opened slightly by Clark 315 resident Mike Price.

Mike said hello to Galen and Justin. Galen could smell an identical marijuana-like odor as that in the hallway coming from inside the room when the door was opened. Justin told Mike that he and Galen could smell a marijuana-like smell that appeared to be coming from inside his room. He asked Mike if he or anyone else inside the room was smoking marijuana. Mike said that no one in the room was smoking marijuana. Justin asked Mike if he could come inside the room to which Mike responded that he did not want Justin to enter the room. He said that he didn’t think it was necessary for the RA to enter the room. Galen said to Mike that he would like to speak to the others in the room. Mike relented and opened the door the rest of the way.

Inside the room were Clark Hall residents Chris Warner and Matt Miles and off-campus student Alexandra Washburn. Once the door was opened more widely Galen could smell the same smell more strongly inside the room. Galen could see that the windows of the room were completely open. Galen could also see a towel lying on the floor very near the crack at the bottom of the door to the room. Galen thought that the eyes of Mike, Chris, Matt, and Alexandra appeared to be red and puffy. Galen asked Mike if he and Justin could enter the room. Mike said that they could not. He said once again that he did not understand why the RD and RA had come to the room. Galen announced that he could smell something that reminded him of marijuana smoke inside the room.

Javier then noticed what appeared to be ashes on the window sill of the room. Javier showed them to Galen and he agreed that they looked like ashes. It was unclear whether or not they were from marijuana being smoked. Galen asked Mike where the ashes had come from. He said that he did not know. Galen asked if they were from marijuana being smoked. Mike said that they were not. He then said that someone may have been smoking a cigarette in his room at some point in the last week and that the ashes were “maybe from a friend’s cigarette.” Galen asked who would have been smoking in his room and he said that he did not know. He said that it might have happened when he wasn’t in his room.

Galen told Mike, Chris, Matt, and Alexandra that he was going to write up the situation and that the incident report generated would be sent to the campus Student Judicial Council for review. He told Mike that he may be found in violation of the policies around the use of open flame and smoking in a residence hall. Galen asked the group of students if they understood the judicial process at Pacific University. They said that they did. Galen, Javier, Heather, and Justin said “goodbye” to the residents and left the room.

After they had exited the room, Javier told Galen that the towel by the crack of the door to the room appeared to be wet. He also said that Mike, Chris, Matt and Alexandra appeared to have red, puffy eyes and that their responses to his questions seemed slow."

(Submitted by Galen Lee, Clark Resident Director)

Alleged Policy Violations:

Mike Price, Chris Warner, Matt Miles, and Alexandra Washburn received letters to go to a Peer Review Board hearing. Mike, Chris and Alexandra attended the meeting and told the board that they believed they were not in violation of any policy. Matt did not attend the hearing.

The Peer Review Board asked the students why the room seemed to smell of marijuana smoke. Mike told the board that he wasn’t sure; maybe residents next door were smoking? Someone on the board asked why he didn’t bring that up when he was talking to the RA and RD, and he said that he was upset about having them there and didn’t think of it at the time. Another PRB member asked why the fire alarm was dismantled. Chris spoke up and told the board that they had no idea the alarm wasn’t working.

The board deliberated and discussed what they had read and heard. One PRB member pointed out that the burden of proof for the board was to decide whether something was more likely than not to have happened. Another member read out the details from the report: the smell, towel, wet door, open windows, and red eyes. Looking at these details altogether, the board voted. They called the students back into the room and let them know that the board found them in violation of the controlled substances policy, but not of the tampering with fire equipment policy. They explained how, with a lack of explanation, and a surplus of details that seem to point to marijuana use, it seemed more likely than not that they had been smoking marijuana.

When deliberating on what sanction to assign, the board learned that Mike and Matt had been found in violation of the same policy previously, and were assigned an online program educating about substance use and abuse. The board decided that, because Mike and Matt had a history with a similar situation, their sanctions would be more severe than those for Alexandra and Chris, who were assigned that online program. The sanction the board decided on for Mike and Matt was To attend a controlled substance workshop on campus. The PRB chair announced these sanctions to Mike, Chris and Alexandra. Because Matt wasn’t at the hearing, he received a letter a couple days later explaining the hearing outcome and the sanction.


This case study is an example of what might happen in such a situation. Actual outcomes vary widely based on the unique circumstances of each case, those involved, and what is shared during each hearing. Please use this case study as an idea of a possible outline of the process only.