Why was There a Delay in Reporting the Case to the Police?

After vowing to recover from previous scandals, Nihon University is now dealing with a drug case involving one of its students. In addition to cooperating with the police investigation, the university should examine whether sufficient progress has been made in its organizational management and reforms aimed at enhancing awareness.

The Metropolitan Police Department has arrested a third-year member of the university’s American football club over the alleged possession of marijuana and stimulants in the club’s dormitory. It is believed that he intended them for personal use. It is hoped that the university will clarify whether they were spread among other club members.

Since last year, the MPD had received several reports of suspected marijuana use by a club member, and had reported such information to the university. However, it was not until July this year that the university investigated the dormitory, and during its investigation, marijuana plant fragments and other related items were found in the student’s room.

What is even more puzzling is that the university did not immediately notify the police of the discovery of the drugs, but kept them at the university for two weeks. There are suspicions that this may have been a cover-up, and it must be said that the university did not understand the gravity of the situation.

In 2018, a Nihon University American football club player injured an opposing team’s player in a dangerous tackle. This was followed by a series of scandals, including a breach of trust case involving a former board member and one other person, and a tax evasion case involving the former chairperson of the university’s board of trustees.

Last year, alumnus and author Mariko Hayashi took over as chairperson in an effort to rebuild the organization, and has been promoting reforms for that purpose.

However, the information regarding the discovery of the plant fragments in the dormitory was not conveyed to Hayashi until a week later. The current situation in which important information is not immediately conveyed to the chairperson is extremely problematic. It is difficult to shake the impression that “Nihon University remains unchanged.”

The delay in reporting the case to the police to this extent may be due to poor information-sharing within the university. The institution must clarify the problems in its organization and make improvements.

The spread of marijuana among young people is serious. About 70% of the 5,000 people who were charged with the usage or possession of marijuana last year were in their 20s or younger. In recent years, arrests of sports club members at universities other than Nihon University also have been conspicuous.

A factor in this may be that students live in dormitories, making it difficult for outsiders to keep an eye on them. The hope is that universities will check students’ involvement with drugs.

Social media is full of misinformation such as that marijuana is “harmless” and the drug is being traded with code words such as “vegetable.” However, when abused, it causes hallucinations, memory impairment and other effects, and there is a high risk of it becoming a “gateway” to stronger drugs, such as stimulants.

Drugs can cause serious consequences if treated lightly. It is important to repeatedly teach young people about such dangers in educational settings and at home.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 9, 2023)