Louisiana legislature passes three bills affecting college life

The legislature passed a budget allowing the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students to be fully funded for the 2018-2019 school year. This gives the students more scholarship money as opposed to previous years when TOPS was only funded at 70.5%. The budget set for the TOPS program is now at $88,368,592. This is the first time TOPS has been fully funded in almost a decade.

The 30% increase in TOPS tuition allows students to apply additional funding elsewhere. This may include necessities such as books, meals, and any extra housing expenses.

“Now that the fiscal cliff is in the rear view mirror, prosperity and stability are straight ahead,” Governor John bel Edwards said at a news conference after finalizing the third special session.

A new hazing law, House Bill 78, will require colleges to educate students on the danger of hazing. The bill also states people who fail to immediately report a hazing event can be fined up to $1,000, imprisoned up to one year or both. If the event results in death, the offender can be fined up to $2,500, imprisoned up to five years or both.

NSU offers alternatives to hazing through a variety of on campus activities. These include participating in team-building exercises, serving the community, and connecting with charitable organizations.

“NSU will aggressively continue with our hazing education and do everything we can to educate students about hazing and other detrimental practices,” NSU President Chris Maggio said.

Another bill took effect starting Aug. 1, stating that medical marijuana will be available to patients with glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, severe muscle spasms, intractable pain and post traumatic disorder. LSU and Southern University have the only two agriculture centers legally allowed to grow the plant to be used for medical purposes.

NSU is a drug-free campus. Students and employees found possessing any illegal substance on university property will be subject to disciplinary action. However, for medicinal purposes, medical marijuana will be allowed on campus.

“Medical marijuana will be treated like any other legal drug prescribed for Northwestern students by a physician,” said Dean of Students Frances Conine. “State law requires that medical marijuana prescriptions be filled at one of the nine approved pharmacies in Louisiana. Also, according to state law, medical marijuana cannot be smoked or inhaled.”