Discover Your Island

Islander Students Learn Amendment Rights During Simulated Drug Bust

November 13, 2017

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Professors at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi are no longer just conducting lectures in a classroom, they are instead using “high impact practices” to teach their students. One such exercise, hosted by the College of Liberal Arts, was geared toward teaching Islander students about their rights as U.S. citizens. During the Simulated Drug Bust on Nov. 2, theatre, communication and media and criminal justice students gathered in the Hector P. Garcia Plaza to perform and watch a staged drug bust.

“This generation learns by doing things, and this is a different experience that allows them to learn in a fun and relaxed environment,” said Dr. Gabriel Ferreyra, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “Also, this gives faculty the opportunity to work across the aisle with professors from other departments, strengthening our interdisciplinary ties.”

The Simulated Drug Bust involved about a dozen theatre students who acted out a 30-minute play in which two “officers” conducted a random drug search on campus. The script for the event was written by Illi-Anna Martinez, a communication and media major, and took six months to complete. Ferreyra, with assistance from Wendy Moore, Professional Assistant Professor of Communication and Media at A&M-Corpus Christi, reviewed the script and added their input. Specific portions of the script were geared toward teaching students about their 1st, 2nd and 4th Amendment rights; the right to free speech, the right to bear arms and the right against unreasonable searches. Other parts of the script offered communications students – some who may want to be journalists – the opportunity for hands-on reporting practice.

“In state and national journalism conventions, we do these types of ‘live’ exercises to give journalists more experience,” said Moore. “We wanted to recreate this practice here, while also extending involvement to students from other disciplines as well as members of the campus community.”

Likewise, the theatre students had the opportunity to gain more hands-on experience in acting as well as learn unique lessons.

“Playing an officer was definitely something I didn’t think I’d ever do,” said Jacob Avery Salazar, a theatre major who played Officer #1 during the simulated bust. “It was an eye-opening experience to see what would happen in a drug bust and the roles officers play.”

After the simulation ended, students in attendance were asked to fill out surveys on what they learned. Professors Ferreyra and Moore plan to use this information to build bigger and better interdisciplinary high impact practice events in the coming semesters.