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Photos: Top five CU Boulder crackdowns before 4/20 visitor ban

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Earlier this month, a CU Boulder spokesman denied that the university's approach to the annual 4/20 celebration on campus represented a crackdown. But that was before the announcement that Norlin Quad would be closed and visitors banned on a day that's clearly not among CU president Bruce Benson's faves. This policy is stirring controversy -- and it's hardly the first time, as you'll see in our list of the top five recent CU Boulder crackdowns. How'd the previous ones work out? Find out below. 5. Medical marijuana patients banned from smoking in dorms Back in 2010, Alex Douglas, who was then a CU senior and executive director of NORML@CU, blasted the university for not allowing MMJ patients attending the school to medicate in dormitories. "It's a five- or six-month wait to get the cards right now," he said at the time. "So for freshmen who are just turning eighteen, and who've just realizing that medical marijuana can help them, it's very discriminatory."

At CU, freshmen are required to live in dorms -- and while the university loosened its regulations to allow first-year students who are also medical marijuana patients to live off-campus, Douglas didn't see this tweak as a solution, since it forced such individuals to choose between campus-life experiences and cannabis treatments. "Their first year is their introduction to college," he told us, "and I'm sure not being able to live on-campus has an effect on their grades, on their social life, on time management. And I don't think it's okay for any incoming freshman or anyone on campus not to be able to use their medicine in the comfort of their own residence."

Nonetheless, Douglas's complaints didn't gain much traction. After all, CU also bans cigarette smoking in dorms, as well as the use of candles, because they're considered fire hazards.

Page down to continue reading our top five CU Boulder crackdowns before the 4/20 visitor ban. 4. Diversity committee considers ban on black face and body paint. As we noted in early 2011, colleges commonly hype big games by asking fans to dress in one of the school's colors, with the most passionate fans often painting their face and body with the hue. That's the concept behind CU "Black Outs." Black isn't officially a CU student color -- silver and gold are -- but it's the dominant shade of university jerseys in most sports.

Nonetheless, news broke in February that the Boulder Faculty Assembly's diversity committee planned to address the issue the following month, with a draft resolution calling on "the campus community to 'vigorously address' the unacceptable behavior."

White students who'd painted themselves black insisted that school pride, not racist intent, had motivated their behavior -- and after locals reacted to this news with charges of political correctness run amok, the committee chairman stepped forward to say the resolution was actually aimed at black face paint used on Halloween, not at football games.

By the way, another black out was staged at a November 2011 game. Afterward, we heard no word of arrests by the PC police.

Page down to continue reading our top five CU Boulder crackdowns before the 4/20 visitor ban. 3. CU gun ban overturned CU Boulder has for many years forbidden students to pack heat on school grounds. But in 2008, an organization named Students for Concealed Carry on Campus filed a lawsuit challenging the prohibition.

The case ultimately reached the Colorado Supreme Court, and this past March, the jurists ruled that the ban was unconstitutional.

James Manley, an attorney with Mountain States Legal Foundation, told the Boulder Daily Camera that the decision represented "a great victory for gun rights, and civil rights in general. CU will now have to fall in line and follow the state law" -- not to mention the lead of CSU, which has let students with proper permits carry weapons for years.

Boulder representative Claire Levy was considerably less enthusiastic. She tweeted, "CU already has an unfortunate reputation as a party school where parties sometimes turn violent. Now it is a well-armed party school."

Page down to continue reading our top five CU Boulder crackdowns before the 4/20 visitor ban. 2. CU bans Nerf guns As Claire Levy's tweet demonstrates, plenty of people outside the CU administration supported the continuation of a campus gun ban. But did they feel the same way about a campus Nerf gun ban?

Yep, in 2009, students who wanted to use Nerf guns as part of a Humans vs. Zombies game were told such faux-weapons were verboten, because cops seeing a handle protruding from pants or pockets might think a student had a gun that fired something other than foam-tipped darts.

The following May, Humans vs. Zombies enthusiasts were initially told that in lieu of Nerf guns, they'd have to throw socks at each other. But after some negotiations, the CU police department issued a "simulated weapons permit" to students who agreed to confine their use of the gadgets to the engineering center.

Both humans and zombies were grateful.

Page down to continue reading our top five CU Boulder crackdowns before the 4/20 visitor ban. 1. CU fights party school reputation CU Boulder typically finishes near the top when it comes to party-school rankings -- and that rankles administrators such as current pres Bruce Benson. Back in 2010, he blasted the methodology used by the Princeton Review to assemble its party-school roster before that year's list was released, calling the approach "extremely unscientific" (duh). Days later, the Review's list showed that CU had actually fallen several slots, making Benson's gripes seem even more dubious.

Not to worry, though. In 2011, Playboy called CU America's top party school. The mag's explanation of its reasoning began like so: "CU-Boulder is home to reefer madness. Not only does Boulder have 50 medical-marijuana dispensaries within its city limits, but every April nearly half the university's 24,000-plus undergrads turn out for the annual 4/20 smoke-out on school grounds."

Did these words prefigure the latest crackdown?

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More from our Shmuck of the Week archive: "Bruce Benson: CU party-school pooper is our latest Shmuck of the Week."

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