Bolton’s Bias: Seminar wastes students’ time

Opinion Editor Will Bolton discusses his opinion with anyone who will listen, in person. This column gives him a place to do it where people can escape from his tirades on everything from school programs to American politics by just putting the article down—although given a chance they probably won’t want to.


JC, there is a right way and a wrong way to do something, and picking both is not a viable third option. Juniors and seniors are too overwhelmed with college, sports, plays, and regular homework to have their time wasted by failed, ineffective drug and alcohol seminars.

The right way to do the alcohol and drug seminar was the Oct. 29 speech to the upperclassmen from Michelle Gallion about her brother’s tragic heroin overdose. It noticeably moved the audience with its poignant reminder that the best can fall to drug dependence and abuse. A path which can, and eventually will, result in tragedy.

Unfortunately, it fell mostly on deaf ears because of the introductory presentation, during the same assembly. While undoubtedly having the best of intentions, Director of the Harford County Department of Drug Control Policy Joe Ryan, class of ‘73, managed to simultaneously insult and bore the upperclassmen while wasting their time.

His speech contained the same, tired explanations of addiction and abuse which have been peddled to us since we were in grade school. It is no longer enough to simply explain that addiction will destroy enjoyment of every other aspect of life while causing catastrophic side effects to our bodies. We have heard it all, and it’s not scary anymore. The seminar was such an exercise in repetition that almost any student in that room, given a microphone and powerpoint, could have done the same job

Even worse than that, it contained as many questionable “facts” as it did repetition. Some of his information was so transparently false that it triggered noticeable muttering during the talk. The most appalling of his falsehoods was his assertion that medical marijuana has no validity, which has been definitively proved to be false according to several CNN reports done on the subject as well as a myriad of other sources.

The seminar’s tone followed its content. Drug prevention programs are as out-of-touch with young people now as they were when Nancy Reagan told everyone, “just say no.” In fact, the speech’s condescending implication that saying no to drugs is as easy as “moral vice vs. moral virtue” was astoundingly similar to the failed “war on drugs” of the 1970s.

Efforts of this kind, which simply demonize drug use and those who participate in it, and shrink a complex social, economic, and medical issue into a moral failure, do nothing but widen the divide between presenter and audience. Ryan’s portion of the seminar should have been totally forgotten in favor of Gallion’s.

Her human story of a beloved brother who fell victim to drugs as a result of an injury and a failure to call for help was infinitely more effective than the monotonous numbers displayed by Ryan.

Students can find better things to do than listening to unnecessary lectures. They can find alternatives to being belittled, and they certainly have more productive pursuits than being lied to. With all of the responsibilities we have, don’t waste our time until these seminars are made applicable.

Will Bolton is a Perspective Editor for The Patriot and