Universities should test students for Modafinil

Exam doping is a ticking time bomb


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Three years ago, if you were asked ‘who is the greatest cyclist of the last decade?’ your response would be simple: ‘Lance Armstrong’. If you were asked your opinion of Mr Armstrong in 2014, something tells me that most of you would have changed your tune somewhat. I for one took a different view of Armstrong’s public humiliation: I felt sorry for him. The uncomfortable truth is nobody could have won the Tour de France in the early naughties without being doped to the gills, and if Lance hadn’t touched the sauce, the world would never have heard of the chisel jawed, cancer defeating, Sheryl Crow banging Texan.

 

This helpless user didn't want to be identified

This helpless user didn’t want to be identified

That is about as laboured as first points get, but hear me out. I’m not writing a provocative article for the sheer hell of it. I, as a (sometimes) hard working student have a real and hopefully vindicated issue with the fact that many of my peers are doping like Lance, and using modafinil, among other drugs, to boost their university performance.

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Modafinil itself isn’t the issue. The academic papers that I waded through to write this article disagree, to put it mildly, but what is clear is that its stimulant effects are often no more useful than caffeine when the ‘I’m taking a magic pill that makes me work hard’ placebo effect is factored out. The issue is that universities are not stepping in while they still can. You only need to look at your non polio-ravaged legs to see that the pharmaceutical industry is good at making shit happen when nothing stands in its way and so universities need to act now to show firmly: ‘no, doping is not ok’. Drugs get better: In ten years time, who is to say readily available smart drugs that actually work will not leave students with the conundrum that a naturally gifted young man called Lance once faced: do I cheat, or do I get beaten by cheats?

Little pills, big implications

Little pills, big implications

Who are you to tell me what I can and can’t take? I hear you cry. Normally: nobody. I won’t judge you if you spend your weekends smashing the Columbian marching powder and pretending to be Leonardo DiCaprio. When we are in an exam hall however, I will judge you. I, and no other student, should be forced to take a substance of any kind just to level the playing field. You only need to read the bile that Becca Atkinson wrote in the Tab recently to realise that the education system is grossly unbalanced as it is. Adding another variable can only complicate things and unless universities start to punish dopers like they do plagiarisers and essay buyers we are royally screwed when a drug manufacturer finally hits on a drug that, unlike modafinil, actually makes you better at exams.

The acquitted student studies at Manchester Uni

Our universities need to step in now

We are all competing for the same jobs and opportunities. It is a travesty in the making that the gifted and the studious may soon lose out to the doper without ethics. Universities must do all in their power to test students and punish offenders or they are wilfully allowing a scandal. A fair fight in the exam hall is worth a pee in a pot.