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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Should someone crash the pot party?

I'm not so naive to think that pot smoking and underage drinking doesn't happen on college campuses. But I was surprised by the "whatever" attitude from Skidmore College and the Saratoga Springs Police Department concerning the April 20 party at which about a hundred students openly smoked marijuana from joints and bongs. Would they have done the same if it was beer being consumed? What would a parent there for admitted students day think? Forty-thousand-plus in tuition, up in smoke? I'll be looking into this more for an editorial for Sunday's Saratogian. Your thoughts?

11 Comments:

Blogger gerard hawthorne said...

I tend to agree that if alcohol was involved it could be more troublesome. That too would be potentially breaking the law with underage drinking and all the added charges to go with it. But I also believe that the more we make of this the more we will be opening a bigger can of worms. If we let it go they will go back to smoking behind closed doors. If we push it kids tend to react by going one step further.

April 21, 2009 at 5:28 PM 
Blogger justkristin74 said...

I believe there are actually two issues here, and each raises separate questions and concerns. First, the legality of the event. There is little question that pot is illegal, and in possessing and smoking it the students were indeed breaking the law. Could an officer have caught someone in the act, in uniform or otherwise? Yes. At the very least, if a student was there they could be charged with possession, whether or not an officer actually saw them inhale. The second issue, and one more concerning to me, is that the police and college officials seem to be determining which laws should be enforced - not what is or is not law. I firmly support legalization of marijuana and think keeping it illegal is a ridiculous waste of resources in terms of courts and police. That being said, it is still against the law. I believe that as citizens in this country, it is our duty to take part in democracy by shaping laws that are being made, not ignoring laws that exist. If the students wanted to protest the laws existence, they should - but not by breaking the very law they disagree with. I would be curious to find out how many of those students have ever written a letter to a senator or voiced their support in a more meaningful way for legislation legalizing pot. That would be behavior I would heartily support. Getting stoned in the middle of campus on a spring day is not.

April 21, 2009 at 7:56 PM 
Blogger Jeannette Jordan said...

I was shocked at our police and Skidmore College faculty for allowing such a demonstration. What next?
It is a fact that pot can lead to harder drugs. Just ask anyone who is an addict or a drug free addict.
Again, my discuss is with our police force. What was their reasoning.

April 22, 2009 at 10:46 AM 
Blogger shanghai dandy said...

Hate to burst your bubble when you are on the hunt for a story that's worthy of your time, but this a big fat non-story here, Blombo. College kids smoking pot!! OMG call the police, FBI and DEA!

Are you kidding me? With everything else going on in this town and the world, you want to drop everything and write about Skidmore students smoking pot... I can't wait for next week's hard-hitting feature editorial on sylvan ursine defecation.

Look, I have been on both sides of the town/gown coin, and I realize that there is a level of resentment and cultural friction that for some is cause for fascination with this type of story.

"Look at all these exotic, rich brats and what they get away with - right under our noses in our town!" is how it reads.

Thankfully the police and college have things in perspective and treat this non-event with the level of interest that they should, which is to say, very little.

April 22, 2009 at 11:07 PM 
Blogger Nelle said...

"Shanghai Dandy" has it wrong. The outrage that I felt about the event at Skidmore wasn't about what the students were doing (and stop putting negative words into other people's mouths that aren't there!)... I was concerned about what the ADULTS were NOT doing. First off, Skidmore College giving a group of students tent permits for 420 was providing tacit permission for the event to become as big as it was. I was also annoyed at the letter to the editor the college president wrote where he said that we were blaming a student body of 2400 for the actions of a small minority. Frankly, I'm not blaming the STUDENTS, President Glotzbach, I'm blaming the ADMINISTRATION. Treating this like a non-event was, in my mind, a serious breach of parental trust. I wonder how many parents visiting the campus that day felt that way?

April 24, 2009 at 8:43 AM 
Blogger shanghai dandy said...

Nelle,


The administration had no interest in this event taking place, and they have nothing to gain by any of this.

Please take your irrational rectitude somewhere else. If you care so much about the well-being of young people, go volunteer in the bad parts of Schenectady or Albany where they actually need your help. I think the Skidmore kids dabbling in sex, drugs and rock'n'roll are going to be OK.

"The kids are allllrightttthiiiighttt..."

April 24, 2009 at 9:39 PM 
Blogger ask2908 said...

I am a student at Skidmore College, and while I do not condone the illegal actions of my peers, I think this has been blown way out of proportion. Skidmore has been painted as being the center of the “Saratoga Springs drug trade” and a school full of stoners. I would like to point out that the actions depicted in the Saratogian article were the actions of a small minority. We are an excellent academic institution full of students who take our studies very seriously. We also contribute quite a lot to the community, particularly in bringing theater, arts, and important public speakers to Saratoga. I think the police have better things to worry about than a group of kids smoking marijuana on a college campus–and if this isn’t the case perhaps I’ve identified an area of our Governor’s irresponsibly large budget that can be trimmed. If you really think Skidmore College is a problem in the community, please don’t come to any more of our events.

April 25, 2009 at 11:28 AM 
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Jeanette,

You couldn't be any more misinformed regarding marijuana being the so-called "gateway drug." This is a misnomer propagated by those who continue to blind themselves to the medicinal benefits of the plant. Please read about this 12-year University of Pittsburgh study before you make such an broadly incorrect statement again in your travels. No offense, but it really dates your intellect.

justkristin74,

People in Saratoga Springs smoke weed everyday. Go into just about any restaurant downtown, and you'll probably find a cook or bus boy catching a few hits in the back. Or in the back allies along Caroline Street on a Saturday night. Or at SPAC during any concert. Certainly the police know about this behavior, but they don't bother with arresting these people because it's not worth the resources it would take. The Skidmore event was contained on a private campus, and was posing no imminent threat to public safety. Mind you, Chief Ed Moore also made note that the Spa City cops were dealing with a domestic at the time and the event on campus wasn't an all-day festival as some make it out to be.

Nelle,

Just about every college campus under the sun observes 4:20. This is what we call a 'passive resistance' to a law that has no business being on the books. I hate to draw parallels between movements, but were you railing out against the young New Paltz mayor when he was illegally marrying gay couples a few years ago? Or when students were illegally occupying administration buildings to protest the Vietnam War? Certainly both of these examples have a degree if gravitas not commonly associated with the movement to legalize marijuana. But if you talk to some of its more fervent proponents -some of whom were assuredly at this event -you'll find they're every bit as serious in their cause.

So to sum it up, what you call a flagrant flouting of the law, I call civil disobedience and a flavor for what this country was founded on.

April 27, 2009 at 9:33 AM 
Blogger shanghai dandy said...

Someone should crash the Barbara Lombardo as Managing Editor of the Saratogian party. The paper has become an out and out farce under your management, you mental midget.

April 28, 2009 at 9:04 PM 
Blogger The Sac Master said...

I was planning on writing aresponse but then i read Horatio Algers. Flawless, i aplaud you.

May 13, 2009 at 8:57 AM 
Blogger Pop Culture Kid said...

I think it's amusing that cops arbitrarily enforce drug and alcohol laws, which it seems is the point of the post.
How can RAs bust kids for smoking one day, while it is essentially condoned on the next day? Pot should be legal, but as long as it isn't then the drug laws should be enforced with some sort of uniformity and regularity. The level of arbitrariness left to the cops and other people is unfair and unwise. On this point I think Justkristin74 has it completely right, and that these officials enforce policies and shouldn't be making policy.

June 1, 2009 at 11:24 PM 

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