Henley Castleman

(Rock Hill, S.C.) —- Last month, residents of Richardson Hall, on the Winthrop University campus, thought they were being let in on a secret that could potentially keep them out of trouble.

Alcohol is allowed in Winthrop dorms if a student is over the age of 21, but there is a strict no drug policy.

Students living in Richardson were exposed to a rumor, which was completely false, but for many the story would grow larger than life.

It all started when a resident complained about the smell of marijuana in the residence hall and repeatedly asked if drug dogs could be brought in to find the source of the smell.

From there, the story grew from a simple question into a wild story about a drug raid that many students believed actually happened.

“The resident was told that a dog could not be brought in,” said Elizabeth Moore, the residential learning coordinator for Richardson Hall.

“Only university-approved animals are permitted in the residence halls. Animals that are not authorized can impact the allergies of residents and fundamentally alter the community environment for residents who may be afraid of dogs.”

There are also the potential legal concerns that would likely prevent the university from bringing drug-sniffing dugs into a residence hall, but that didn’t stop the rumor from spreading like wildfire among the dorm’s residents.

“One kid was talking about how he heard it from a (resident assistant). Another kid was talking about how he heard it from a janitor. Just talk around the halls,” said Dane Hamilton, a freshman business major from Columbia, S.C. who lives in Richardson.

Hamilton said he heard about the “potential drug dog raid” from a number of different people.

“I too heard a student say that the dogs were being brought in,” said Moore. “I later looked up this resident (spreading the rumor) and found he wasn’t even a Richardson resident.”

Some even went as far as to say the drug raid had actually happened and dogs were seen running up and down the hallways.

“At some point, I think someone ended up with an overeager imagination and decided we were hosting a drug dog simulation,” said Moore.

“I think the rumor spooked residents and inadvertently helped deter some behavior,” she said.

“I understand the rule of not having anything (such as drugs) in there and understand them doing it,” said Hamilton. “But if there isn’t a reason or smell then there isn’t a need for them to invade our privacy.”

Sometimes stories simply take on a life of their own and become larger than life. Perhaps, it’s inevitable that someone will reminisce about the “great Richardson drug raid of 2018” at a Winthrop 20-year reunion.