Editorial: On 4/20, give Skidmore the reputation it deserves

Posted by the Editorial Board

Editor's Note: To partake in a survey concerning 4/20 and Skidmore's campus culture, click here.

As the counter-cultural holiday of 4/20 draws near, students and administrators are bracing themselves for the anniversary of the College's unfortunate and embarrassing marijuana-related controversy in 2009.

That year's celebration saw a few dozen Skidmore students gathered on the south green openly indulging in drug use. After The Saratogian covered the merriment, Skidmore saw its name thrown into the pool of America's recognizable "druggy" schools. The following year, driven by overblown media coverage and an increased perception of marijuana use, Skidmore temporarily rose to the No. 2 position of the Princeton Review's "Reefer Madness" list.

The fumes from that year's event are still lingering. While our ranking has dropped to No. 15 in the "Reefer Madness" category, we should ensure that it continues to do so.

Our grievance with this persisting depiction is that it is an inaccurate portrayal of Skidmore students and our College in general.

Skidmore's continued appearances on these sorts of lists create a self-fulfilling prophecy: because of the heightened perception of marijuana use sparked by the 2009 incident, the school is placed in this category in college rankings, which, in turn, perpetuates the perception.

If anything, the College has earned this ranking only through an inflated perception of drug use as well as the laissez-faire attitude we have towards the choices of our peers rather than our actual consumption.

The truth is, since 2009, 4/20 is increasingly a non-event at Skidmore. Students do not gather in large numbers on the South Green, or any other location, to smoke marijuana. The category name "Reefer Madness" falsely implies that students are in a constant state of drug-induced hysteria. Anyone familiar with Skidmore's campus culture will recognize that portrayal as ridiculous.

If we wanted to draw a more accurate picture, we could say that Skidmore students are simply more tolerant of each other's choices.

This toleration among students should not be confused with an institutional negligence toward drug use. While the student body might live and let live concerning their peers' actions, the College's administration is far from complacent. The letter that the student body received from Rochelle Calhoun, dean of Student Affairs, reaffirmed the long-held policy that the College would not tolerate violations of College regulations or the laws of New York State.

Rochelle Calhoun and the administration are taking the right stand on this issue. The letter reiterates the Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) policy from the Student Handbook: "While we understand that students will make their own choices, we also believe that students should experience the consequences of their choices."

We are adults and we deserve to be treated such, which includes taking full responsibility for our actions.

Skidmore College's academics are a source of pride, and the only lists on which we should seek to appear  are those that showcase our educational distinctions. We should continue to correct the misapprehension of our College's relation to drugs. When Skidmore students or alumni speak of their alma mater, there should be nothing to distract from its earned reputation of excellence in higher education.

This 4/20, in any action that students take, they should be mindful of the consequences for them and the institution.  

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