Save your breath

November Staff Editorial Support 6-0


Sometimes you have to make a change. 

Most of the time these changes are for the better. Especially when something has reached a point where it’s so obviously in need of transformation that you’d have to be brain-dead to miss it. 

In the case of Grand Haven High School’s breathalyzer policy, truer words have never been spoken. As the Blade has discovered through rights advocates, legal experts and, more importantly, the students, what the administration is doing right now is dead wrong. It’s discriminatory, arbitrary and everything in between.

So why the PBT (preliminary breath test) in the first place? Simply put, the administration feels it’s necessary to keep students safe while at a dance. 

But any reasonably bright student can conclude that they could just choose to drink after the dance, so as to not get caught. 

To work to solve the problem of underage drinking, the school should make an effort to target students for this activity. 

The school should be basing who receives a PBT on reasonable suspicion instead of a randomized method. This means that if someone acts as though they’re intoxicated, they get breathalyzed. If the admin wants to breathalyze us, they better have reasonable suspicion to do so. 

Other school districts in our area handle this issue with different approaches. Mona Shores bases its PBTs on the reasonable suspicion method. They define it as impaired speech or coordination, or odor of alcohol on the breath. Comparatively, Fruitport and West Ottawa do not administer PBTs. 

If they trust their students, why can’t our school do the same?

As it stands now, GHHS is mimicking Spring Lake, where the admin staff choose a number one through ten and then systematically distribute PBTs. 

Let’s face it: random breathlyzation is not a thing. It’s GHHS’ unfounded claim at ensuring students have a fun, safe night. Oh, and it makes them look good in the public eye too. 

Besides the issue of reasonable suspicion, there are rights that must be read to you before a PBT is administered. Do Grand Haven students receive them?

No. Per principal Tracy Wilson, students get the reassurance that everything will be alright. 

What legal merit does that have?

Further, the policy is outdated in comparison with other social issues. As teenagers, we live in an era where vaping is more prevalent than smoking cigarettes, where people would rather get high on marijuana than drop acid.

And where drinking is less and less cool every day. Just ask Wilson, she’ll tell you there hasn’t been a drinking incident at a dance in several years. 

As students, we should be asking ourselves: what the heck is going on? We’ve been getting slighted for years without even realizing it. We hope the story you’ll read later on in this issue clarifies this policy.

For now, there is only one conclusion we can make: the school’s breathalyzer policy is unnecessary in its current state. If the administration genuinely wants the students to enjoy the dances and keep them safe, they ought to change it.