4/20 at CU-Boulder: University expects quiet day but will be ready for anything
Earlier this week, we chatted with CU-Boulder Police's Ryan Huff about the school's preparations to close campus on 4/20 for the second consecutive year. He said many of the 100 or so people who'd requested visitor passes for tomorrow seemed more focused on attending tonight's Macklemore concert than protesting the university's actions. CU-Boulder spokesman Bronson Hilliard agrees that criticism has been muted thus far. But even though the school expects a quiet day tomorrow, personnel will be ready just in case problems erupt.
Big photos below.
"I think we've only gotten about thirty e-mails to the chancellor's office" complaining about the closure decision, says Hilliard (disclosure: a longtime friend of yours truly). "And by the time the announcement had gone out last year, I'm pretty certain the e-mail response had been in the hundreds."
To what does Hilliard attribute the griping shrinkage? "I think people recognize that we won a court case last year that basically said there is no unbridled, unlimited First Amendment right to go onto a college campus and smoke pot. The university has a right to manage its physical grounds around its mission, which is research and teaching."
Photo by Britt Chester
Another possible factor, he adds, "might be the bigness of what's going to be happening in Denver -- two days of events, plus the Red Rocks show, plus the Snoop Lion show, plus all the other things in Denver. It seems to be shaping up to be a festival atmosphere, and I think that's going to draw a lot of people" who might have otherwise stayed in Boulder.
Thus far, Hilliard says CU officials "haven't seen anything that would indicate a large-scale protest" against the university. "There have been a few Facebook sites where somebody will post, 'Let's reclaim the campus,' but then no one posts underneath it, or it only gets fifteen or sixteen likes. So we're not seeing anything that looks like an organized effort.
"That doesn't mean there won't be one," he hastens to add. "One thing about the current digital environment is that protests and demonstrations and flash mobs and things like that can be organized on fairly short notice, and we're aware of that."
Even if the day goes as smoothly as anticipated, Hilliard emphasizes that afterward, "we'll do what we have done following 4/20 every year, which is convene as an administration and look at what worked and what didn't work, and talk about the process for next year -- look at the landscape and see what special conditions there might be for next year."
The most obvious example of the latter? April 20 will fall on a Sunday, when a closure might be expected to cause even less of a fuss than Saturday, as is the case this year. Still, Hilliard says, "there's no way to automatically read what that means. We need to go through the same process we always do to see what this gathering means to various organizations and what direction those groups are moving in -- take it on a year-by-year basis."
Continue for more about 4/20 at CU-Boulder, including photos from last year's event.