Education

4/20 at CU Boulder: More visitor pass requests for Macklemore show than to protest closure?

Last month, CU-Boulder announced that it would be closing campus on 4/20 for the second consecutive year -- and attorney Rob Corry, who unsuccessfully challenged the shutdown in 2012, is encouraging Boulderites to take part in Denver's 4/20 rally.

If many of them do so, CU-Boulder could be quiet this weekend. But the campus police force will still be ready for challenges -- including a Friday Macklemore concert that may be prompting more visitor-pass requests than potential protests.

CU-Boulder police spokesman Ryan Huff says that from a law-enforcement perspective, the department's approach "will look very similar to last year" -- meaning that access to the campus will be restricted to students, staff and those who have received visitor passes because they have business on campus Saturday.

The main difference? According to Huff, "Officers will have index cards that will describe why the campus is closed for the day, why the administration has asked us to be there, and what people could face if they go onto campus if they don't have student, employee or visitor credentials. And there's going to be an e-mail address for the Vice Chancellor for Administration and also a website" -- Colorado.edu/april20, which is already live -- "for more information."

The latter has been added to the mix, Huff notes, "because we got some feedback last year that there wasn't a great avenue to offer complaints, praise, suggestions, comments. So there'll be some additional methods so that people can provide that feedback."

The goal "isn't to put one of those cards into every person's hand," he allows. "But if they have questions -- if they wonder why the campus is closed -- these cards will have all that information on them."

Huff doesn't expect that particular question will come up much given the amount of press the closure has already received, not to mention social-media outreach conducted by the university in the weeks since the announcement. Like last year, moreover, there will be signage on routes leading to the university, as well as along the perimeter of the campus, letting people know that on April 20, CU-Boulder is closed to unauthorized visitors.

Brittni Hernandez, president of Colorado University Student Government, or CUSG, advocated strongly for the cards, as well as for CU-Boulder Police to be aware that some transgender students may not look like the photo on the campus ID cards they'll be asked to show when coming onto campus. Huff says "we don't foresee that being an issue. Our officers are certainly going to be sensitive to that."

As for the question of how many people have applied for visitor passes, Huff puts that number at around 100 -- a very modest total if a group planned to infiltrate the campus for reasons of protesting the closure or staging an authorized 4/20 protest. Not that there are prominent indications such an effort is in the planning stages. "We've seen some traffic on social media about various protests or marches, and we're monitoring that," Huff emphasizes. "But we haven't seen anything to indicate that there will be a large-scale demonstration."

Then again, most of the people who've applied for visitor passes appear to have another event in mind.

Continue for more about the CU Boulder campus closure on 4/20, including photos from last year.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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