4/20 at CU-Boulder: Student government argued against campus closure
CU-Boulder's decision to close campus on April 20 for the second straight year in an effort to permanently squash the long-running 4/20 event there has already generated complaints and threats of legal action.
More photos below.
Current representatives of Colorado University Student Government (CUSG) aren't fans of a campus shutdown, either, and argued against it in meetings with administration officials. But while they didn't win the war, they earned some smaller victories they hope will point in a more positive direction down the line.
Last year, as we've reported, a previous CUSG administration worked hand in hand with the administration, conceiving a Wyclef Jean concert as a free alternative gathering for students who might otherwise be tempted to light up at 4:20 p.m. on the big day. But only about 1,250 people turned out for a bash that earned Jean $80,000 and cost approximately $150,000.
The tide changed with the arrival of new student leaders (disclosure: my twin daughters are members of CUSG). During a January interview, CUSG director of health and safety Chris Schaefbauer expressed some misgivings about how the campus visitor ban was handled in 2012, despite an antipathy for the 4/20 bash's location. "We don't want it on the campus," he told us. "We continue to agree with last year's CUSG and administration about that. But we think there are different ways to accomplish that."
"I feel this year was very different in terms of the working relationship we've had with the administration," she says. "Although we disagreed on points, I think they really took the opportunity to listen to students, and I feel good that they treated us like colleagues and professionals."
CUSG created a task force charged with coming up with what Hernandez calls "short-term and long-term solutions" for 4/20. And after conducting surveys and speaking with students from all walks of campus life, the message came through loud and clear -- closing the university was a bad idea, and so was requiring students and visitors to show identification on April 20 in order to be granted access to school grounds.
The reasons for opposition to ID checks ranged from historical -- she cites World War II era laws in Europe targeting members of the Jewish community -- to very up-to-the-minute reasons. For some LGBTQ students, "their gender presentation doesn't match their ID," Hernandez points out, "and being asked, 'Is this you?' may bring up other trauma that we don't want students experiencing. And many students of color and low-income students who might be white have experiences dealing with police that asking for IDs can bring up."
She acknowledges that the administration isn't setting out to press such buttons, "but we told them what it feels like -- what it was like for members of these communities last year."
In the end, though, "for their own reasons of wanting to stay consistent, they decided to close campus and continue ID checks. But they have tried to employ things that meet us halfway. The police will be briefed about not being racially biased, about asking everyone for IDs, and being sensitive if gender presentation doesn't match the ID."
Continue for more about the Colorado University Student Government's take on CU-Boulder's April 20 shutdown plan.