‘Drugs on Campus’ – a Bitter Pill to Swallow

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A university is not a university without experiencing certain activities. Drug use is one of them. It is a lingering issue that has not yet been put to rest. I decided to ask a student who is very familar with the drug activity on campus.

Are there drugs on campus?

“Yes of course there are,” she said with a smirk as if I was silly to even ask such a question. “I think the university is aware of it but they just look the other way,” she continued to click on her Facebook as life whizzed by in the busy wired cafe. “Everyone knows who the dealer is. It’s not like it’s a secret or anything.

Why is it that security or the authorities do nothing about it?

You can smoke weed in front of security (everyone knows what weed smells like) but the chances of you getting stopped depends on what mood the security officers are in at that time.”

This was more than an incentive for me to find out more and who are responsible to know the identity of the drug dealers. Mr. A was well renowned for his trade in the university on the southlands campus. I thought obtaining an interview with him would be difficult considering the risk involved in disseminating information to a journalist but finding him was easy.

He was more than happy to offer an interview and I knew my charm had nothing to do with it. We were in southland’s cafe. It was full to the brim with comfy sofas. The air was filled with chicken from the shop to our left and the lights were dimmed enough to tempt someone to fall asleep. He had an unlit roll up between his fingers which he fiddled with every once in a while. His baseball cap and track suit seemed to take me back to basic stereotypes of what we perceive as ‘drug dealer like’ in stature. We were the only ones in the sofa area. He was very comfortable to share with me the escapades of his drug trade on campus.

What kinds of drugs are sold on campus?

Main drugs being sold on campus include MBMA (crystallised ecstasy) in its purest form. Obviously weed, Armani pills (they make you want to dance) …erm, Ketamin (horse tranquilizer).

Horse tranquilizer? I had to stop him. Why would you (or anyone) want to take horse tranquilizer? “Don’t know? I just supply,” he replied.

He plays with his cigarette and gets comfortable in the chair that is far too small for movement. He continues to reveal more and I’m lapping it all up like a dog on Christmas day, not believing my luck. He continues but goes a step further by answering questions I haven’t even got to ask yet.

“Cocaine is bagged up in grams. Certain areas have better or weaker, say Hackney’s; it’s better than the shepherds bush stuff.”

Contacts – is there anyone higher in the hierarchy than the dealer? Who do you get it from?

“I don’t deal with any of that, he said.

I saw a fear in his eyes as he said this. A fear that I haven’t witnessed before.

“I don’t get into it. ‘They’ probably get it from someone who smuggled it abroad,” he added.

Is there any particular race that buys certain types of drugs?

“Everyone buys different types of drugs. Everyone buys generally. White people buy MBMA frequently but everyone buys weed,” he answered.

Have you ever been caught dealing drugs?

“Never been caught dealing. I know someone who just got arrested in the area,”

How recent was this?

“Two days ago and a lot of people do know this guy. There have been various raids in the areas south-west of London, especially this area though.”

Anyone caught smoking weed?

“Heard of incidents in the first year but not sure if it’s true.”

He is momentarily distracted by people at the pool table ahead of us who had begun a game of pool. They shout ‘Oooh!’ as one player misses a shot. We laugh. This serves as a casual distraction before returning to the interview.

“There is a supply and demand relationship. The supplier will give you a quantity and say ‘I’ll have this and you make a profit on the rest’. The prices depend on dealers. Gram of coke Pounds 50, MDMA Pounds 50, half of MD Pounds 25, ounce of weed Pounds 160 upwards.”

Seriously?! I’m surprised. I wondered why drug addicts were poor. I had my answer right here. This vice was not cheap.

He nods in recognition of my shock.

How long would it last me with 2 mates?

“2-3 days maybe. If there’s more. When 3 of my friends died, we bought 3 ounces of weed. We got through all of it in 2 days but that was constant smoking. But around here, I’ve noticed people don’t smoke a Zoot/Spliff/Joint to themselves. They share it.”

“I came from a funeral and bought 1/8 with the intent of sharing it with the guys one each but they couldn’t handle it. I barely put any tablets. If you put any tobacco you’re gonna get f***ed. It depends on the strength of the weed. There are different types.”

“I can give you some names: lemon, purple haze, being a title. There is blueberry.”

I look at him helplessly, as if to say ‘really’. He simply replies comically – ‘Don’t ask’. So I don’t, which to an extent was unethical of me but he had so much more beans to spill and I intended to collect all the right ones.

“Flying Dutchman.”

I snicker because I’d never thought they’d have such silly names, “White widow.”

I look at him wanting an explanation to this one.

“Smoked with cocaine crystals and that s*** is powerful.”

I smirked. He’s obviously speaking from experience.

“Then there is hashish, which is the resin or pollen, they crush it, mix it.”

I told him to slow down because he is going way too fast for me.

Crush and mix it with what?

“I don’t really know.”

His replies are pretty honest considering how much he’s spilt on what he does already. How reassuring that he doesn’t know what’s going into stuff he’s selling.

“Then they cook it.”

With what? I say even more perplexed than before. He continues…

“They cook it so it solidifies,” he said.

“Then they use it to cook hash brownies which are very popular.”

He said this like he had tasted some himself and it was fun for him.

“MDMA can be snorted or wrapped in tissue and digested. Cocaine can be snorted. Heroine can be snorted or injected.”

Hmm. By this time I’m pretty much overwhelmed.

What else is there?

He taps the chair in thought. “Ketamin (horse tranquilizer). I guess they drink it but you wouldn’t really want to do that. Weed is smoked, mixed with Shisha, drunk in tea or alcohol.”

Again I’m surprised but maybe I shouldn’t be after what I’ve heard. For him this is everyday news. “I’ve done it myself too,” he said.

Has security ever caught you smoking on campus?

“They have caught me but they can’t do anything about it because they have to call the police.”

“I’ve smoked roll ups that contain only tobacco only but was searched because it was rolled like a Spliff.”

Will there ever be a decline in demand do you think?

“No way!”

He looks humorously surprised like I asked a stupid question and I’m convinced that in a way maybe I have. Does a baker not constantly get orders for bread? I think the same logic applied here.

“As long as it’s there. I’ve noticed a lot of first timers. The first time, you are high. You will feel “normal” depending on the smoker – different reactions for different smokers. Red eyes, giggles, that sort of thing,”

Will Demand ever wane? I asked again.

“People will always come to Uni. It (supply of drugs) will never die out until the Uni stops (because of the demands).”

It may not have been the answer my moral ears wanted to hear. It was a business and the only way a business dies is if it is shut down. A set of people with the power to do that is security.

It was a cold night on the 8th of December at about 1:25am and I walked across to the registry kiosk. I asked a tall black guard about drugs. He listened then referred me to the guy I needed to speak to.

‘You might have to speak to this guy for stuff like that,’ he said motioning to a bunch of men in the kiosk.

They were in a warm cosy box of a registry of sorts, littered with computers scanning areas of the university with CCTV, all crammed in like sardines. Warm but not the type of place for grown men to stretch but they all seemed to fit somehow. 80’s music is playing in the background, which felt like a reference to yesteryear, when drugs, sex and rock and roll was more of a motto rather than a bookmark in history.

A bleached blonde mop-haired security guard is reading a book, giving 100% fixity. His comrade, also clothed in the ridiculously luminous bright jacket, is sipping on what smells like vegetable soup and Sid (the ‘guy’ I was referred to) a man with a full head of almost white hair is paying me more attention than I can bear as he leans forward to answer my questions. The place is well lit and the light reveals the experience lines in his face. Clearly this man is their leader.

“People do get away with it quite a lot (taking drugs on campus). People who are caught get their cards confiscated. They fill out a report and send it to the welfare officer of the applicable campus depending on the student’s college.” Sid said. The officer sitting next to him nodded vigorously as he spoke.

“The student is then contacted and a warning session takes place. Police are not immediately called (or contacted at all) contrary to popular belief. They are only contacted if the hard drugs are found or grievious bodily harm is committed.” I notice the definition as to what is ‘hard drugs’ and what is ‘serious’ was not stipulated.

They had found cannabis on a student recently. One of the guards interjected that he had caught a deal going just recently. I couldn’t help but think he wanted a medal of some sort. I think he was trying to let us know just how important a guard he was. Maybe that was the crux of the matter. Maybe the security guys felt their services unappreciated. It wasn’t like they were inefficient.

When asked about whether there were repeat offenders, he mentioned a person on Mount Clare but refused to mention names. Sid, the officer, said that if we (I was with a friend) are planning on making any mischief we should reconsider but said it with humor. Then again I couldn’t quite tell but that was the beauty of it I think.

I was getting somewhere but it was only fair to interview someone who actually had got caught, who was subject to the treatment. Again, the chronicles of drugs on campus are stories well known among those who chose to dabble in Roehampton lore and it was not long before (after bringing it up in conversation in different groupies) that I was directed to someone (Mr. B) who had been caught smoking weed on campus.

He seemed a little uncomfortable so I did my best not to probe him but rather ask him the basics of the incident.

How did you get caught?

Err, hesitates slightly. I was smoking outside the bop and the security just came.

Who? Raywen Ford? Where?

In her office in the student welfare centre last year but that’s changed. I can’t remember the date, sometime last year it happened. I was caught with weed at the bop.

Were they (security) rough about it?

They were cordial.

What did they do? – I was intrigued to see whether what they (security) told me matched what they said they did in this incident.

“They asked me for my ID and escorted us out of the premises.”

Us? Who was the other person?

Couple of friends but they were not implicated in the event.

Why weren’t they?

They didn’t possess any (weed).

Did they smoke as well?

No just me. He smirks childishly.

Where did they escort you to?

Frobel gate. They took the weed. The melancholic tone of his voice was pronounced when he said this.

“They told us someone will be getting in contact with us and sent us home. I was contacted by email during the week and the meeting was a week later with Raywen Ford. She asked me where I got it from.”

He received a permanent reprimand on his student profile but nothing was taken further. However, this was a minor case of drug use. The ‘hard stuff’, the Ketamin, the crystalline cocaine, the cannabis and all the others were still being sold in the university while the security was clearly deluded into believing they knew exactly what was going on, when in reality, they were catching only a puff and a whiff on campus.