4/20 at CU-Boulder: Student leaders looking at all options after concert flop, campus shutdown
CU-Boulder student government leaders began talking about moving the 2012 version of the infamous 4/20 rally off-campus the previous July, and worked closely with the administration for months prior to a visitor ban and Norlin Quad closure on the big day. In contrast, the current student administration has kept a low profile on the topic. Now, however, a representative of CUSG is speaking up, albeit with more caution than the previous regime.
Big photos below.
That doesn't mean the 2012-2013 CUSG staff (which -- full disclosure -- includes my two daughters) is dreaming of a 4/20 comeback. Indeed, director of health and safety Chris Schaefbauer, who, with student body president Brittni Hernandez, is serving as a liaison to the administration on the subject of 4/20, makes it clear that "we don't want it on the campus. We continue to agree with last year's CUSG and administration about that. But we think there are different ways to accomplish that."
As you'll recall, last year's CUSG sponsored what was characterized as a 4/20 alternative -- a concert featuring Wyclef Jean that was scheduled to get underway during the middle of the afternoon on April 20 and continue past 4:20 p.m., when participants traditional fire up. But the attendance at the show was catastrophic -- approximately 1,250 people for a bash that earned Jean $80,000 and cost approximately $150,000.
Photo by Britt Chester
Meanwhile, the CU-Boulder administration restricted access to the entire campus, preventing non-students from entering and requiring enrollees to offer identification before being allowed to be there. In addition, Norlin Quad, the traditional ground zero for 4/20, was spread with terrible-smelling fish fertilizer and cordoned off -- and three students who dared to step onto the grass were arrested. The case against them was later dropped after they agreed to volunteer on behalf of Amendment 64 -- and after their attorney, Sean McAllister, called CU's tactics fascist.
Schaefbauer doesn't use similar language, but he does concede that "some students have definitely expressed some serious concerns about the approach last year. That's why our primary focus this year has been really to try to reach out and engage students -- to ask them how they felt about the event and what they want to see the day look like. We think it's important to have a dialogue."
The last batch of student government leaders tried to get input from students about 4/20, too, sponsoring a late November 2011 meeting during which one student characterized 4/20 opponents as "rich, trust-fund assholes." But Schaefbauer says many of the students with whom he's spoken more recently felt like they weren't part of the process last time around -- and the CUSG staffers want to prevent something similar from happening again.
To that end, CUSG has conducted a student survey (the results are expected within the next few weeks) and "diligently reached out to students" in a more casual way to get their feedback. In Schaefbauer's view, "we're talking about this more openly than maybe has been the case in previous years."
After the 2012 edition of 4/20, the CU-Boulder administration branded the shutdown a success -- an analysis that suggests a possible repeat of last year this next April. But Schaefbauer thinks a deeper examination is warranted.
Continue to read more about CU-Boulder student government and 4/20.