Cannabis smokers of Santa Cruz, unite. Blaze up the ganja (as if you haven’t been already), because it’s time: 4/20 is upon us. Yes, that beautiful time in spring when all the potheads and stoners of the city — and the state, for that matter — converge on Porter Meadow to do something they do every other day of the year: smoke weed.
But before we all gear up for some good old-fashioned — albeit unsanctioned — fun, let it be known that the Man is trying to cut the rotation off. On April 7, many UCSC students and even some parents of students might have noticed an e-mail sent out by Felicia McGinty, vice chancellor of student affairs, with regard to our beloved unofficial holiday.
McGinty explained in the e-mail to students that the upcoming smokefest is “a non-university sanctioned event often referred to as ‘Four-Twenty’ or ‘4/20.’ This unsanctioned, unwelcome and illegal activity,” she wrote, “diminishes UC Santa Cruz’s reputation and draws negative attention to the campus.”
The e-mail went on to outline the measures being taken by the administration in an attempt to stop us, or at least curb us, from partaking come Monday. These measures include rerouting the Metro buses and cutting off the West Entrance to all incoming traffic, as well as making the already nightmarish campus parking restrictions even harsher. In addition, McGinty pointed out, UCSC will be implementing a weekend-long “no guest” policy for students who live on campus.
The reasoning behind sending the e-mail to students is fairly transparent. Without issuing this type of public disapproval, UCSC risks looking like it condones the illegal activities associated with 4/20.
The reasoning behind sending e-mails to parents of students, however, lacks that same transparency. If there were some intended benefits to sharing 4/20 details with some UCSC parents, we haven’t seen them.
But if there’s one thing a few years at UCSC teaches you, it’s that events like this make the university one of the most unique campuses around. Every year students find an excuse to run naked during the first rain, hold drum circles to honor every full moon, and descend upon Porter Meadow in an annual weed-burning extravaganza. These quirky eccentricities are a part of our campus culture and moreover, a part of the Santa Cruz experience.
Ultimately, the counteractive measures planned by the administration for 4/20 will probably inconvenience more people than they will help. Students with Monday afternoon classes on the west side of campus will find themselves inconveniently dropped off on the east side of campus.
For those committed to smoking, however, these measures will likely achieve nothing. They did nothing last year or the year before, and the likelihood that they will actually impede the efforts of anyone this year are slim to none.
Rather than attempting to uphold a tidy, perfect image via a string of e-mails and regulations, the university should come to terms with what UCSC is and has always been. We boast a campus community and energy like no other and despite our pot-smoking ways, we still manage to emerge from the university as some of the smartest, brightest, most powerful individuals in the country.
The administration may not like it, but smoking in Porter Meadow on April 20 is a part of UCSC culture, and the beloved 4/20 tradition won’t be burning out any time soon.