By Emma Whitford
Two St. Olaf students were arrested on Sept. 15 for pos- setion of controlled subtances after Public Safety responded to a complaint about the smell of marijuana coming from a Mohn Hall dorm room. A dispatcher alerted Public Safety officers Katherine Theis and Lucas Wheelock, who knocked on the door of Riley Hedstrom ’18. In compliance with the officers, Hedstrom pointed to an ottoman in the center of the room.
Inside, the officers discovered two water pipe bongs, a baggie containing crystal rocks that appeared to be meth- amphetamine, small tabs of paper that appeared to be LSD, marijuana wax, rolling papers, cigars and paraphernalia used to smoke marijuana wax. At the end of their search, Hedstrom and Oliver West ’17 were arrested for possession of controlled substances. A court hearing is scheduled for October.
Hedstrom and his family have faced a whirlwind since that night. On Saturday, Sept. 19, he said that he still had a long way to go before things could return to normal.
“I have chemical assessment on Monday, and I’ll probably do some kind of outpatient treatment program,” he said. “I know that the school wants me to resolve any kind of legal
issues before they consider allowing me back in, so I’m try- ing to deal with all the personal and legal ramifications from it first.”
Besides academic and legal repercussions, St. Olaf ’s sports teams and extracurriculars have their own policies, too.
“Whether or not I would’ve gotten in trouble with the administration, there still would have been ramifications with the football team,” Hedstrom said. “Coach takes [drug and alcohol use] very seriously, and we want to abide by [his rules] and be honest with him, but his punishment doesn’t have to do with anything that the school assigns me for pun- ishment.”
Hedstrom’s father, Mike Hedstrom, explained the whole situation from a parent’s point of view.
“[The parent and child tie] is incredible. It can be a bless- ing, it can be a curse, but, at the end of the day, everything that your child experiences, you’re right there with them… whatever the issue is, whatever the stress, strain, fear, you’re going through it with them, so it’s really painful.”
Riley Hedstrom is hoping to return to campus for summer classes, but ultimately his suspension has not yet been decided by administration. St. Olaf determines suspensions and punishment on a case-by-case basis.
“We don’t have a lock-step system at St. Olaf, so it’s not ‘if this, then that, if this, then that.’ I appreciate that it’s not lock-step. With the options available to us, we do our best to be very consistent,” Dean of Students Rosalyn Eaton-Neeb ’87 said. Hedstrom said that he had not yet talked to an administrator regarding his suspension.
According to St. Olaf’s 2014 National Collegiate Health Assessment, 67.8 percent of St. Olaf students used alcohol within a period of 30 days. 14.8 percent of students used marijuana and 9.8 percent used some kind of hard drug. St. Olaf is always working on ways to decrease drug and alcohol related incidents, as well as inform students of the personal, academic, and legal repercussions of drug and alcohol use.
One of these initiatives is the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) program. Any student that is caught for drug or alcohol use can be man- dated by the college to complete the program, which involves a personal survey about substance use and a
confidential sit down with a BASICS counselor. Any student who is curious or concerned about their own substance use is free to complete the program.
“In a weird way, I’m actually kind of thankful that this all happened,” Hedstrom said. “I really don’t think I would have been forced to face the reality that I have a problem had I not had to deal with these extreme consequences.”
He hopes that his situation can serve as a wake up call for his peers. “I just kinda hope that my case can serve as an example of the very real and life changing consequences that can come from neglecting that