For months, members of CU Boulder's student government have talked about their desire to move the annual 4/20 celebration off campus. But the logistics of doing so proved challenging, prompting leaders to opt for a low-key campaign to shrink attendance. Now we know the centerpiece of their plan: a Wyclef Jean concert that'll be free for students and is scheduled to get underway at 4 p.m. that day. The idea is to turn show attendees into a captive audience.
As we've reported, CU officials have never been thrilled with the 4/20 spectacle, but shortly after last year's version, which drew a throng of thousands, regent Michael Carrigan spoke out, calling for 4/20 at CU to be banned due to the expense of protecting so-called "outsiders" who flood into Boulder for the day. He put the cost at $50,000.
That July, student leaders picked up this drumbeat, with Brooks Kanski, vice president for external affairs with the university's student government arm, known as CUSG, telling us, "We have some concerns with the event itself and the way it's conducted -- and the crowd it draws onto campus during classes." He added, "As an administration, we agree that we're here to increase the all-around excellence of our students, and part of that is contributing to a strong academic performance and a strong public image of our school. And this is a negative contributor for our school. We've seen its impact on our school's reputation across the country, and it's something we want to correct -- for the value of our students' degrees more than budget concerns."
Cut to today, when CU students received an e-mail about the Wyclef Jean show -- and the tone of the missive, on view below in its entirety, is certainly much more hardassed that the typical concert announcement. For one thing, the carrot of the gig (at the Coors Events Center, which seats just over 11,000 people) is accompanied by the stick of harsh crackdowns on those who choose to celebrate 4/20. For one thing, tickets will be issued at the traditional Norlin Quad location, or anywhere else on campus, with fines up to $100. Moreover, those cited "will have their names posted on the CU-Boulder police website's crime log, which could affect their employment futures," the e-mail announces.
Regarding the concert, which will also feature Cris Cab and Boulder's TTF, it's sponsored by student government, known by the acronym CUSG, and the university's program council. According to Kanski, "we've been working on this for, I'd say, close to two months. Wintertime, we knew we definitely wanted to hold an alternative event with the intention of attracting the student body to a more positive, constructive gathering such as this."
The costs are being split between CUSG and program council, "which we knew would be putting on an event in the springtime," Kanski continues. "They seasonally budget for an event then, and we agreed that this would be a terrific opportunity to double up on our money and make an investment toward curtailing the 4/20 gathering, giving students an alternative event to partake in."
Ticketing details are pending, but Kanski says, "We're anticipating that attendees will be required to have a student ID to attend. They'll claim a paper ticket, which they'll bring, and we'll be scanning them at the venue."
Moreover, once the doors close at 4 p.m. for the concert, ticket holders will be required to stick around for the approximately two-hour concert. The reason for this policy, Kanski maintains, "is just crowd control. We don't want this to be a chaotic, in-and-out mess that will create problems for security and the ticket scanners. That detracts from the reason we're putting on the event. This is a great event with an artist who's renowned worldwide, and all we're asking is that they're inside when the doors close at four."
Of course, Jean, who rose to fame as a member of the Fugees before embarking on a successful solo career, isn't exactly averse to pot. In 2006, for instance, he made headlines for what the Huffington Post described as a "drunken tirade" at a Las Vegas hotel during which he announced, "President Bush needs to smoke marijuana!"
Kanski doesn't seem surprised to learn about Jean's fondness for ganja. Indeed, he says Jean was chosen to headline the performance in part because "we thought he would appeal to the day."
Was Jean informed about the details of the event? It's Kanski's understanding that he was. As for the strong possibility that concert attendees will blaze up during the show, he refers questions to the CU Police Department.
While the 4/20 strategy has been percolating for the better part of a year, Kanski doesn't believe it will eliminate the event from CU's campus once and for all.
"In a perfect world, with the perfect plan, the 4/20 gathering at Norlin Quad would be gone this year, and we'd have a terrific annual tradition for students to engage in at a more constructive venue," he says. "However, we are all realistic people, and realistically we know that to eliminate an event of this magnitude in one year is improbable. So I will be happy if we have a successful and constructive concert and eliminate many of the non-students who come onto campus -- a super-majority who come onto campus that day."
TO: CU Students
FROM: Deb Coffin, vice chancellor for student affairs Karen Raforth, interim dean of students Carly Robinson, CUSG internal vice president
SENDER: Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
DATE: April 3, 2012
SUBJECT: Important information on the 4/20 gathering on the CU-Boulder campus
Dear CU student:
As you know, your student government and the university administration would like the disruptive, unnecessary and unsanctioned 4/20 gathering on the CU-Boulder campus to end. With this in mind, please join us in taking key steps this year to end 4/20.
We invite students who do not have Friday afternoon classes to attend the free Wyclef Jean concert at the Coors Events Center, sponsored by CU Student Government (CUSG) in partnership with Program Council.
The concert is for CU-Boulder students only. Doors open at 2 p.m. and will close at 4 p.m. The concert is expected to end at 6 p.m. More information on the concert will be e-mailed to students in coming weeks, so watch your e-mail for upcoming announcements.
We also want to communicate some key changes and conditions that may impact you or your peers on 4/20:
• Tickets will be issued for smoking marijuana on the Norlin Quad, or anywhere on campus, prior to, during and after the gathering. Such tickets can result in a $100 fine.
• Possession of a medical marijuana card does not entitle its holder to smoke marijuana on campus, and in fact can result in revocation of the card.
• Alcohol policies will be strictly enforced throughout the campus.
• Students who receive tickets will be subject to a review process with the Office of Student Conduct and if a student is found responsible, sanctions will be issued. Additional sanctions will be levied by the Boulder County and Boulder City courts.
• The federal Clery Act requires that the university maintain a publicly accessible crime log. Those ticketed or arrested for violating CU rules and state or local laws will have their names posted on the CU-Boulder police website's daily crime log, which could affect their employment futures.
• All classes and academic activities will go on as scheduled.
• Please do not invite friends or visitors to campus that day. Those not affiliated with CU-Boulder are advised to avoid the campus entirely on 4/20.
• Plan ahead since extremely heavy traffic and long traffic jams are expected on Broadway due to construction and along 28th Street due to overflow traffic. University and City of Boulder guest parking will be virtually non-existent on the CU-Boulder campus and in adjacent CU neighborhoods.
Please join the CU Student Government and the University in taking key steps this year to end this disruptive, unsanctioned gathering on the CU-Boulder campus. Your degree has value and your safety and your future matter to all of us who are proud of the University of Colorado Boulder.
Deb Coffin, vice chancellor for student affairs Karen Raforth, interim dean of students Carly Robinson, CUSG internal vice president
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More from our Marijuana archive: "4/20 in Boulder: CU student government leaders want it moved off-campus (PHOTOS)."