4/20 at CU-Boulder will be a drag, so go to Denver, university says

With a judge ruling yesterday that CU-Boulder can go ahead with its plan to close Norlin Quad and ban visitors from campus as a way of shrinking the annual 4/20 event, people who'd planned to mark the day in Boulder have a choice -- face cops lined up at every CU entrance, look for somewhere else in Boulder to blaze or take part in Denver's Civic Center Park bash. CU suggests the latter.

"If there's a place to push this, we'd say go to Denver," noted CU-Boulder spokesman Bronson Hilliard. "There's a two-day festival with music at Civic Center Park. Go to it. Our message is, 'Don't come to Boulder at all for 4/20.'"

Our interview with Hilliard (disclosure: a longtime personal friend) took place earlier this week, before attorney Rob Corry's request for an injunction to halt CU's shutdown plan -- one that ultimately proved unsuccessful. Afterward, Corry told the Boulder Daily Camera that he needed more time for his challenge, but as we pointed out in the post linked above, CU prevented opponents from pulling more resources together by waiting until a mere week before the event to make public its closure plan.

Was the timing of this announcement a strategic plan to limit the amount of blow-back?

"I won't say it wasn't a factor, but it wasn't a guiding factor," Hilliard told us. "The guiding factor was, 'Let's have all our ducks in a row when we make this announcement. There were a ton of small, logistical details we wanted to work out. There are a lot of little moving parts dealing with internal constituents -- mechanisms that had to be created to get people on and off campus. We didn't want to announce the modified closure until we had all these things worked out and we could tell our own internal campus population, 'Here's what you need to do today.'

"You can't make announcements and then say, 'We'll give you the details later.' So it was kind of a tough position. Ideally in a university setting, people want to know things months ahead of time, because of the details that have to be worked out. But we weren't able to do that this time."

The roll-out of information had some observers wondering if representatives of student government, known collectively as CUSG, were used by the university, with which they've been working for months to downsize 4/20. A month ago, vice president of external affairs Brooks Kanski told us the campaign to end 4/20 would be low-key -- and the establishment of a free-to-students Wyclef Jean concert getting underway just before 4:20 p.m. seemed to fit that description. However, more heavy-handed tactics were subsequently divulged.

Was CUSG duped? Not at all, Hilliard said. "This was a discussion for some time in the 4/20 working group, and was decided on by leadership in late March," he revealed. "I think what Brooks was talking about by 'low-key' is that our officers were going to be more active in writing tickets, but they're not going to be taking a physically aggressive stance with anyone as a first order of business. They'll be polite and professional. There'll just be more of them. That's what everyone has been alluding to."

By the way, the slate of CUSG candidates representing the Entrust Party, which has been working with the administration on 4/20 policies, lost to the rival Pulse Party in just-completed elections that will be finalized in early May. Does this indicate that the student body at large disagrees with the approach being put in place today? Hilliard doesn't think so. From what he understands, the main Pulse talking points involved "consumer issues, like rising tuition costs," not 4/20.

By the way, CU regents just passed a 5 percent tuition increase.

Page down to continue reading our interview with CU-Boulder spokesman Bronson Hilliard.

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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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