Wednesday, April 18, 2012

420 at CU Boulder

Let me first state that I am not necessarily an advocate of marijuana. I don't use marijuana. Its simply not my drug of choice. I prefer wine and sugar, both of which are, lucky for me, 100% legal. That being said, I am am advocate of  freedom. Freedom to medicate, choose, express yourself, engage in civil discourse, and of course,  freedom of association. Which is why, I am highly disappointed and alarmed at CU's attempts to extinguish the annual 420 event.

Here's CU's Norlin Quad on a regular old day.

Let me back up a bit, and in case you are't familiar, here is a nice overview of what 420 means to some

More Norlin.

Boulder is somewhat of an anomaly. A liberal wealthy bubble of a town where organic rules and medicinal marijuana dispensaries are a plenty. 420 at CU has become quite an event, and represents a protest against federal, state, and municipal laws which prohibit marijuana use. Many attendees are gawkers, like me, or undergraduates, or advocates, or yes, even faculty. The event entails 1000's of people collecting on the grounds of Norlin, a beautiful open space on campus surrounded by historic buildings, where at 4:20 pm most (but certainly not all) people light up. Its a peaceful gathering where people inhale their legally or illegally obtained mary jane, which I should add is not a criminal offense in Colorado. And that's it. It lasts all of about 30 minutes.

Norlin on 420, 2010.

CU has been mostly tolerant of the event, but has taken an entirely new stance this year, which is both contradictory and alarming. Rationale for this 180 degree turn have not been addressed, but here is an overview:

  • April 3 E-memo sent out campus-wide outlining that 420 is disruptive to learning and urging professors not to cancel or alter course schedules on that day. The message also promoted the free on-campus concert with Wycleff Jean, (who is known to be marijuana friendly), which will run from 2pm-6pm, and is incidentally sponsored by Coors. Oh, and apparently there will be extra security on campus issuing parking tickets. What?! So we should not accommodate 420, which is disruptive, but we should send students to a concert instead? What happened to learning? And parking tickets? Really?! 
  • April 13 E-memo # 2. I've pasted the entire letter at the bottom of this post. Highlights include campus being closed to all visitors and check points throughout campus requiring students, staff and faculty to show ID. Violators will be charged with trespassing. Also, Norlin is closed to EVERYONE and anyone entering the quadrant will be charged with trespassing, which is punishable with 6 months in jail and a $750 fine. 
  • April 16 CU also announced its plans to disperse fresh fish fertilizer on the grounds of Norlin on the morning of April 20 as an added measure to keep people away. 
This is unbelievable. CU's actions infringe on our right to associate and freely express our beliefs, whatever they may be. I am thrilled to see that the Colorado chapter of the American Civil Liberties Chapter intends to fight CU on this basis, noting that closing campus is a violation of the public's right to protest government policy and student's rights to assemble and express their views. And, than goodness for social networking....


TO:      CU-Boulder Students

FROM:    Deb Coffin, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

SENDER:  Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

DATE:    April 13, 2012

SUBJECT: 4/20 advisory on campus closure to visitors and non-affiliates

Dear CU student:

The University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano announced
today that the University will be open to students, faculty and staff on April
20, but closed to non-affiliates and visitors due to the disruption caused by
the 4/20 gathering.

On Friday, April 20, CU-Boulder's classes will continue as scheduled, but the
following measures will be in place:

-- Students, faculty, staff and all CU-Boulder affiliates will need their
BuffOne ID cards to get on, and around, the campus. Those not affiliated with
CU-Boulder will not be permitted on campus and if found on campus will be
subject to a ticket for trespassing.

-- Police will have checkpoints set up on all major campus entrances. Those with
a valid CU parking permit may park on campus.

-- Norlin Quad lawn areas will be closed to all people. Anyone, regardless of
campus affiliation, who enters these areas will face a ticket for trespassing.
Closure signage will be clearly displayed in this area. 

-- Visitors will not be allowed to park on campus. Attendants will check those
traveling to campus for BuffOne IDs and parking permits.

-- CU-Boulder police and regional agencies, and The Colorado State Patrol will
conduct enhanced patrols on U.S. 36, Colo. 93, the Diagonal Highway and other
highways throughout the day, looking for drivers under the influence of drugs
and/or alcohol.

-- Regent Drive will be closed to through traffic from approximately 1:30 p.m.
to 6 p.m. Only buses will be allowed to use Regent Drive. other drivers should
plan alternate routes.

-- The Buff Bus and RTD Stampede, 209, and J routes will be impacted between the
hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Please see for details on how these routes
will be altered and/or delayed.

-- CU-Boulder students are invited to attend the Wyclef Jean concert at the
Coors Events Center. Students attending the concert must be inside by 4 p.m.
Doors will be shut at that time. Attendees are free to leave whenever they
would like, however, there are no return privileges. For more information,
visit the Program Council website at

-- More information about campus procedures will be posted at

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