FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

UVM Sells Out to Federal Drug Warriors

by Aaron Hawley

Just like the global “Drug War”, a victory on the battlefield takes little for the self-proclaimed warriors. University of Vermont (UVM) administrators and Student Government members have already begun patting each other’s backs after “averting” Saturday’s 4:20 event-the annual cop a buzz day. The pro-pot gathering attracted close to three thousand people in front of the UVM Bailey-Howe library last year.

This year’s new UVM administration (a place of high turnover rates) entered campus with a “get tough” attitude on the swelling 4:20 event. The Student Government was offered access to the administration budget. They couldn’t refuse to cooperate in organizing alternative events for the weekend. The event’s price tag is placed around $55,000, which likely does not include the cost of a notable appearance by local law enforcement agencies. Reports estimate 1,500 people attended the drug-free event. Assuming little marginal income was made from selling $10 tickets to non-students, that averages out to around $40 per person. Interestingly, about the same amount it costs for a “bag”.

The unanimously White (not surprising Whites are far less prosecuted for drug use than Blacks or Hispanics) event isn’t characterized by students overtly calling for “legalization”, nor an end to the “War on Drugs” (which some have called the “War on Us”). The hour-long event is attended for the smoker-solidarity, and predominantly for the overt party atmosphere, a public display that occurs at one of the nation’s top party schools. And an atmosphere that plays out in private behind University of Vermont dormitory doors, and in Burlington apartments on every other day of the year. Students cry that it is a noble tradition and promotes school spirit. I imagine there are likely other causes thousands of students could rally for. Acts of hate or sexual violence on campus come to mind.

I wasn’t on campus or even in Burlington on April 20th. But from what I heard and read, most didn’t let the University stand in their way from smoking on their “holiday”. Some attempted to initiate a 4:20 on other parts of campus. Even people who stopped by to catch the free concert, headlined by Vida Blue, which features members from Phish, the Allman Brothers and the Funky Meters (perhaps not the culture our campus’ drug-warriors should promote), still smoked that day. These students were sure to do it the way University administration wanted them to: behind closed doors.

Students were forewarned ahead of time that police would crack down, so they faced the trend in the form of a question, “Education or Incarceration?”. Fortunately for them, they were privileged college students and were given a choice of whether to get arrested or stay in school-not an alternative offered to most of the urban victims of the war on drugs.

“Education vs. incarceration” is an equation for increased funding by state and federal governments to prisons, and decreased funding to educational programs. Sentencing laws inspired by the “War on Drugs”, like mandatory minimums and California’s ‘Three-Strikes’, result in more prisons and higher incarceration rates for drug and other non-violent offenders.

UVM’s version of the “War on Drugs” benefited various rock and hip-hop acts. In the real “War on Drugs”, the beneficiaries of irrational decision-making and policy are arms manufacturers, military contractors, pharmaceutical companies, private prison and prison-related businesses, and multinationals needing an excuse to protect their investments in natural resources (need I say “Oil”?).

The casualties in the real “War on Drugs” are indeed us: the drug users and their families that don’t have access to drug treatment in a “get tough on crime” and “just say no” society; those who “pay” for it in taxes and loss of public services; and those in other countries suffering the true casualties. The people of Colombia, for example, are caught in the middle of a civil war involving a militarized government fighting a “War on Drugs” with heavy U.S. sponsorship.

So why do administrators on campus submit to this war? The decisionmakers at UVM can’t believe that potheads create a violent scenario. They can’t be concerned for student health or safety, because student’s smoked anyway. Their true motivation was giving in to political pressure. Fifty-grand is a drop in the bucket for the administration’s larger “public relations campaign” and appeasement of arbitrary threats from Montpelier to cut funding to the state’s public university.

If University administrators believe that it is justifiable to throw money to avoid pot-smoking events, and threaten students with harm and/or arrest from the police, and fail to create a ‘harm-reducing’ environment then perhaps they should know that they are not actually servicing students. Acts of hate or sexual violence on campus also come to mind. This sort of attitude has failed us, the D.A.R.E. generation, before. When is the money going towards law enforcement, criminal justice, unethical corporations and now rock bands going to go towards education?

Administrators have done a lot to clean the public image of the University, but have they really just fallen in line with the rest of the unreasonable drug policy characterized by the “War on Drugs”?

Aaron Hawley attends the University of Vermont. He can be reached at: Aaron.Hawley@uvm.edu

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rivera Sun
Nonviolent History: South Africa’s Port Elizabeth Boycott
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail