Drug Testing Summer Interns

Date: Thu, 12 Apr 90 13:05:15 PDT
From: Jacobi.pa@Xerox.COM
Subject: Internship and drug test
To: don@cs.UMD.EDU


I have heard you are considering to refuse the summer intern job on moral grounds because of the drug test. I think I have to accept your decision; first, because I don't have any choice, second, because I agree that such a standpoint is honorous. But I would like to communicate some of my viewpoints for you to consider before making a final decision.

I believe drugs are a serious problem for our society and I whish I knew what I could do to help solve those problems. The high ups in our corporation think they found a way to share fighting drugs, and, they stick to it with stubbornness, really believing they are doing a good deed.

I strongly believe that our drug test policy is the wrong measure for a good cause. I do not think it is immoral. I only think it hurts us very much and it doesn't provide any benefits. I'm a little bit morally worried about the wrong we can do to somebody if a test wrongly shows a positive result. I don't really trust all the guarantees about privacy. Much more worries me that such a policy prevents us from hiring some of the best people, eg. like you. Specially the kind of people with good new research ideas might be a bit headstrong and are among the people mostly offended by such a policy. Real drug addicts just won't work for us anyway; they can't survive our constant requirements for quality work. Finally, I can't see how a testing policy can help to prevent anybody from getting addicted; neither before we hire the person nor when he already works for us.

I think more people should take a stand and fight wrong where it is due. But, just for improving some/our corporate policy which is wrong but not malicious isn't really worth the effort. There are much more worthy causes to fight, however it is not that easy to find the right ones.

Whether you will end up working for Xerox or not; having made a stay as intern here is a good move. You will be exposed to many good ideas, see unusual systems and meet some of the best people.

Finally, I look forward to working with you. I don't care a bit about the applause you would earn from our lab when it would be announced that you refused the job due to the test. I think the work and discussions you could do to be much more valuable for us then a stand against that policy.


Date: Thu, 12 Apr 90 19:47:53 -0400
From: don (Don Hopkins)
To: Jacobi.pa@Xerox.COM
Subject: Internship and drug test

It is a very hard decision for me to make, that I still have not finalized. At this point I still want to keep my options open, since I have not yet taken the test. I intend to take it, and I'm confident I can pass it (barring the inevitable possibility of a false positive). But I do want you to know how I feel about the test.

I will write a letter stating my position, which is that I hold absolutely nothing against Xerox PARC, and that I would like to work there very much. But because of the drug test, I would feel bad about myself, and that would translate into bad feelings about Xerox policies, for forcing me into the position of doing something I've always said I would not do, in exchange for an otherwise excellent job.

By accepting the job I would be showing Xerox that they could still get good people in spite of their unpopular policies, while the message I want to send is just the opposite, and I would feel worse because of that.

I still want very much to work at PARC, but I also want to be able to honestly feel good about working there. If there is something I can do that will help change those policies, so that it would be a better place to work, then I would feel even better about working there after those policies were changed. I don't want to burn any bridges -- I would rather invest in making a PARC a better place to work in the future, so that I and other qualified people who feel the way I do can work there without compromising our beliefs.

On one hand, I feel bad about breaking my commitment to you and forcing you to cope with the change in plans. But on the other hand, according to the drug testing policy, were I to fail the test, you would have to change your plans for the summer anyway. So because of their drug testing policy, Xerox must be prepared to deal with that contingency anyway. It's not that I am glad that you have to deal with this because of Xerox's drug testing policy -- this is just yet another example of why I think the policy is a bad idea, because it hurts all of us.