On Campus: University of Colorado Students Pass Referendum Calling for Equality in Marijuana and Alcohol Penalties 4/22/05

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Students at the University of Colorado in Boulder (CU) have voted overwhelmingly to signal their support of equalizing campus disciplinary penalties for marijuana and alcohol. As DRCNet reported last week, a similar referendum two weeks ago was approved by students at Colorado State University in Fort Collins with 65% of the vote. But CU students outdid their brethren, approving the initiative with a whopping 86% of the vote.

Sponsored by the statewide group SAFER, or Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, the non-binding referenda ask university officials to consider the wishes of students in setting disciplinary policies. SAFER argues that using marijuana is safer for students than using alcohol, a substance which has been linked to five student deaths in the state last semester.

"We are very happy," SAFER director Mason Tyvert told the student newspaper the Daily Camera after the vote count. "This demonstrates what our organization and many students at CU feel, and that is that marijuana is safer than alcohol. The current penalties put forward by the university are not sensible."

University administrators, stung by a series of scandals and concerned about CU's reputation, quickly repudiated the show of student sentiment. In a statement released Monday, CU officials both denied there were significant differences in the school's alcohol and pot policies and vowed to ignore the referendum. "CU Boulder will not be bound by the outcome of the student referendum," the statement said.

Tyvert and SAFER have in turn vowed to keep the pressure on school officials. Calling the university's decision to ignore the referendum result's "hypocritical," SAFER scheduled a protest Wednesday 4/20 in front of the Coors Events Center on campus. Carrying signs reading "CU Promote Alcohol Use? Of Coors!" and "Coors Kills, Pot Does Not," students will demand the university respond more affirmatively. The Wednesday 4/20 protest came off successfully, as several hundred CU students and supporters played cat and mouse with campus police officers attempting to prevent them from lighting up in honor of 4/20.

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Issue #383 -- 4/22/05

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