The week before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest weeks in the fall term. Professors and students alike are bombarded with work -- trying to set up for the final push after the holiday. It's a stressful time, but also rigorous and challenging, which are not necessarily bad things. It's during these moments students learn intangibles, like personal responsibility, or the importance of a deadline. These values can't be taught; they're hard-earned truths essential to personal development.
This week, The Miami Hurricane, the school newspaper for the University of Miami, caused a stir on campus when they published not one, but two articles basically encouraging students to use the illegal and over prescribed ADHD drug Adderall to get through tough academic times.
Adderall is a Schedule II drug listed alongside cocaine, oxycontin, opium, PCP and morphine. It is illegal to possess the drug without a prescription and using it on a college campus should basically be considered cheating, pretty much like an athlete who uses steroids to gain an inside advantage.
"Magic Pill Can Enhance Focus, Drive" was published by the newspaper's editorial board. In the article, the editors make outlandish, immature and irresponsible claims to defend the drug's use.
"Students have been forced to search for ways to boost their drive, and Adderall is indeed a solution....Others shouldn't look down on those who need -- and welcome -- the extra push."
Is this not irresponsible? And from the editorial board! They're basically advising students to cheat, versus working hard, practicing discipline and meeting deadlines. As a professor, I constantly reinforce my students: do what you have to do, when you have to do it, and you'll do fine. Not wait until the last minute, find illegal drugs, get cracked out, and execute. Come on, now.
"Stressed-Out Students Should Take Advantage of Pills" is even more reckless.
It's written by an undergraduate who makes claims that might've been intended as satire, but don't quite cross the threshold or blur the lines adequately enough.
"The worst thing that anyone has ever done on Adderall is clean a dorm room and look up far too many song lyrics. It's hard to abuse a drug whose main side effects are productivity and finding linear algebra interesting... Medicate, Miami. You've earned it."
This is not satire. If it is, it's really bad. This is basically a misguided recommendation. And the editorial board should've known better, but since they favor the drug, publishing this was a choice.
The Miami Hurricane did try to remedy the problem with one objectively well-written news clip that basically was a pro / con look-at-both-sides-of-the issue; not a ringing endorsement but hardly a condemnation. The condemnation came from a grad student and writer who offered his letter of resignation to the newspaper over the issue. But even his claims seemed a little ridiculous.
"Because people abuse these stimulants, there is a nationwide shortage of Adderall... As a result, those who actually need the medication must work harder to fill their prescriptions."
There isn't a nation-wide shortage of Adderall. That's part of the problem.
This is systematic. This is the Adderall/Ritalin generation all grown up accepting this as a lifestyle. This is a false sense of American entitlement; of thinking that as an American one is entitled to an easy-way-out or to an advantage. What happened to American exceptionalism? This isn't an issue of stress or concentration, of procrastination or laziness. This is validating a false American swagger. America is the only country in the world where Adderall is even prescribed legally. And the University of Miami is one of the most expensive schools in the United States. Already scarred with a reputation for breaking rules through their football program, maybe these students are used to having an inside edge, of getting whatever they want, of taking the easy way out. But it's wrong.
It's cheating. It's immoral. And it's part of the American nightmare.