4/20 at CU Boulder: Wyclef Jean concert, police crackdown to shrink event?

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.

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