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The Scarlet & Black

Three students arrested for drug possession, intent to distribute


Keli Vitaioli

Students were notified through a campus memo that members of the Grinnell Police Department and the Mid-Iowa Narcotics Task Force had been on campus on Tuesday morning, April 19, executing search warrants in the dorm rooms of two students and the off campus apartment of another, leading to the arrest of three students. The two arrests on campus were under the charges of intent to deliver marijuana, failure to affix a drug stamp and possession of drug paraphernalia — the first two charges being Class D felonies and the latter a misdemeanor.

The police presence and action on campus came as a surprise to students, but administrators did not have much notice either.

“We were informed shortly before they came onto campus,” said Dean of Students Sarah Moschenross. “We were contacted by the Grinnell Chief of Police that let us know they would be coming onto campus with search warrants. We didn’t know for who or [what dorm] at the time.”

It is common practice for the Grinnell Police to notify College Campus Safety and Security when they are coming on campus, and these arrests were no different. The College was alerted of the situation just as they would have been for any other police response on campus, and administration had no choice but to comply with the search warrant.

The students were escorted to the Jasper County Jail, where upon they were released on bail and are awaiting trial.

While the College has no hand in the outcome of these ongoing criminal investigations, they adjudicate accusations of behavior against their code of conduct, such as illegal drug use and distribution, on a case-by-case basis. The system involves either review by judicial council, which consists of five students and a student affairs advisor, or a private administrative hearing.

“The conduct system gives students a fair process under the conduct system to take responsibility or not take responsibility for the accusations against them. … They will have a chance to explain the evidence that was witnessed by our staff … and they can have a support person with them as they undergo that process,” Moschenross said.

While the student and advisor committee hear cases of student misconduct on campus, students are not present for cases where the accused student faces suspension or expulsion.

“Fellow students don’t hear those cases, instead it is referred to a college hearing board that is comprised of a student, a faculty and staff member, or a private administrative hearing with me … which students can always request … depending on the privacy needs of the student,” Moschenross said. “Our conduct process is meant to be educational and not punitive in nature.”

Moschenross is new to the department, having started in July of 2015, but believes the recent influx in on-campus arrests is not due to an increase in illegal activity but to an increase in the College’s ability to handle these cases.

“It’s my impression that more cases have been adjudicated through the conduct system recently, but that doesn’t mean the same behaviors weren’t happening last year,” Moschenross said. “We have more staff and structures in place which helps the conduct system function better than it has previously.”

Whether or not misconduct places students at risk of suspension or expulsion is determined by the “seriousness of the misconduct.” At the time of the interview Moschenross was unable to comment on whether or not the students who are facing charges are at risk of suspension or expulsion, however, she states that they are still currently enrolled at the College.

The Mid-Iowa Narcotics Task Force that executed the warrants is a multi-agency group, which includes one officer from the Grinnell Police Department as well as members from departments in the surrounding areas such as Newton, Pella, Marion and Jasper County. While there were Grinnell College security officers present during the arrest, the task force is responsible for the investigation as it continues.

“It seems like today there are more arrests specifically when it comes to marijuana usage,” said Grinnell Police Captain Theresa Peterson. “Kids in high school and kids in college don’t think it’s as big of a deal as it was 20 or 30 years ago. With the legalization of [marijuana] in different states and medicinal use we see that stigma just doesn’t exist anymore.”Handcuffs

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