One public college in Central Missouri will now conduct drugs tests on its students, all of them. Linn State Technical College, a community college in Linn, Mo., began its new, incredibly far-reaching drug policy this semester.

According to an Associated Press article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

The tests started Wednesday at Linn State Technical College. Courts have upheld more limited drug testing of high schools students, as well as NCAA athletes and students at private colleges. But Linn State’s move appears to be the first effort by a public college or university to enact widespread drug tests of the general student body.

School leaders say the move is necessary to ensure student safety at a campus where coursework includes aircraft maintenance, heavy engine repair and other dangerous tasks. They say it also prepares students for the workplace.

“It does appear that our program is unique in its scope and breadth,” said one attorney who represents the school. ” But there aren’t very many colleges as unique as ours.”

This is ridiculous. Interaction with heavy machinery occurs at many vocational colleges in the United States, which have not experienced a rash of injuries, crashes, and other problems as a result of drug use. Furthermore, LSTC was founded in 1961. It seems to have been doing fine without drug tests for half a century.

Under the new policy Linn State will test every student for the presence of 11 different drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and oxycodone. Apparently students who test positive will be put on probation and must test negative for all drugs after 45 days in order to remain in school. Students who test positive must also take an online drug-prevention course.

Right. Because this sort of thing is totally the school’s business.

This seems like an awfully harsh policy for a community college, where students don’t live on campus, are often older than 18, and enrolled part-time.

The drug tests will apparently apply even to students studying things like accounting or communications, who would present no danger to anyone if high.

Civil libertarians object to tests like these, which they say are a violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful searches and seizures.

The ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri is likely to present a legal challenge against this new policy.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer