Margaret Watters

Cocaine is the unseen drug at Miami University. Law enforcement officials say they rarely see it, but students have a different story.

Senior Paige Jax* has been using the drug since high school and she paints a different scene than the police.

“It’s so easy to get here,” Jax said. “You just have to listen for it.”

Jax said in a certain context, if someone asks if you want to go have some fun, they’re talking about cocaine.

“I think it’s at parties,” senior Christina Young-Peter* said. “It’s not out in the open, but if you ask people you can come into coke easily.”

The two Miami women have different stories. Young-Peter is a recent, inexperienced user and Jax has been blowing lines of cocaine for about seven years. But they both agree – look around, it’s here.

The blow

Young-Peter tried coke when she was dating a guy that was, as she put it, in the crowd. She said she liked doing it when she was drinking because it was a fast high.

“It was a sudden rush, and I became more emotional and felt exhilarated,” Young-Peter said. “I went back out and I remember feeling really happy.”

Jax first tried coke her first year of high school. She said a friend was dating an older guy and the three did it together at a party. Jax did cocaine all through high school but stopped for a while when she first came to

Miami. She said until you’re comfortable with the people you’re doing the drug with, it can be incredibly dangerous. To make a larger profit, she said dealers cut cocaine with other substances like rat poison.

“I was in the bathroom with a girl once at Brick Street who said a guy gave her a line for free,” Jax said. “Then she started bleeding out (of) her eyes. It was so stupid, you never do that.”

Jax said it didn’t take long for her to find people at Miami who use coke. She said she knows a lot of people who do cocaine, although they’re not telling anyone about it.

“It’s much more underground than say pot or something else,” Jax said. “Which makes sense, because it has much higher consequences. If you get caught with coke, it could ruin your life.”

The Office of National Drug Control estimates in 2007, approximately 8.5 percent of college students and 14.7 percent of adults ages 19 to 28 reported lifetime cocaine use.

Jax said she does three lines of cocaine (one line is about an inch and a half) each time she uses.

“All your worries about school, about guys, about trivial things like you have to clean your room or do this or that – it all just goes away,” Jax said.

The line

It’s not easy to follow the line to the dealers. Jax said the dealers she knows in Oxford also deal at the other Miami campuses and at University of Cincinnati.

Sgt. Jim Squance of the Oxford Police Department said he thinks a lot of the cocaine that gets to Oxford comes from Hamilton, but like Miami’s students, it also comes from all around.

“It’s hard to pinpoint one area for where the drug comes from,” Squance said. “It can be from anywhere from Northern Michigan to Toledo to Atlanta.”

Young-Peter said her ex-boyfriend’s dealer lived in a house with the rest of his friends. She said the entire house blew coke but was still very secretive about handing the drug off.

The better you know the dealer, Jax said, the lower the price you get charged. For a dealer she knows well, she is charged anywhere from $60 to $80 for 12 lines.

“That’s why it’s here,” Jax said, “because people have the money to pay for it.”

Young-Peter said if she had the money to finance the expensive habit, she would do it more often. She said she thinks it’s easy to get addicted or overdose because when you’re coming down from a high, you crave more.

Jax said she’s never hit a maximum tolerance for the drug but stopped using a month ago.

“Myself, I realized, who wants to go into a career like that?” Jax said. “Who wants to be the one going to work all coked out?”

Jax said she misses it.

“When I’m having a bad day, I think it would be so nice to blow some coke right now,” Jax said. “It makes all your worries go away.”

She said it’s hard to be around her friends and not do the drug. Jax said she isn’t sure if coke is so accessible because she knows the group of people or because there are many groups that do it. Young-Peter said every drug has a crowd at Miami – marijuana, Adderall and coke.

The Po

Miami University Police Department (MUPD) Chief John McCandless said in his five years with Miami, he has only seen one or two citations for cocaine pocession.

“Do I think there are people that probably do it?” McCandless said. “Yeah. I do.”

In 2008, Miami reported 39 drug law violations and McCandless said only a couple were cocaine related.

McCandless said judging from the statistics, it doesn’t seem like cocaine is an issue for Miami.

MUPD Lt. Ben Spilman said the statistics don’t always tell the full story.

“I think it’d be naive of us to think it’s not on Miami’s campus just because we’re not finding it.” Spilman said.

Young-Peter said she’s not surprised OPD and MUPD don’t find coke more often. The nature of the drug, she said, is private. It’s done in private (bedrooms or bathrooms) and people don’t talk about it.

“It’s not something you do openly to be cool,” Young-Peter said. “They don’t talk about it as much as you would expect.

Jax said if someone’s talking about how they “blew coke” they didn’t do it.

Squance said the drug of choice in Oxford is alcohol, followed by marijuana.

McCandless said MUPD probably don’t see a lot of cocaine because logistically, it’s harder to get.

“It’s much tougher to get cocaine than in comparison to alcohol or marijuana,” McCandless said. “I don’t think there’s a free flow of cocaine across campus … and that has a lot to do with it (why we don’t see it.)”

Squance said when OPD goes into parties reported on noise violations it’s not unusual to see traces of cocaine or cocaine paraphernalia.

McCandless said the arrests he’s seen in the last couple years for cocaine were when MUPD went into residence hall rooms for an unrelated reason and found traces and paraphernalia. Squance said they rarely see student violations but had a few seizures of large amounts of cocaine in past years, namely the seven kilograms with a reported street value of $400,000 last fall.

Squance said America’s war on drugs has gotten more serious in recent years and Oxford has changed how the station’s operations run.

“Drugs are such a big deal now,” Squance said. “We have one officer that works undercover full time just on drugs.”

*Note: name changed to preserve anonymity