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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.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Skidmore College and '4-20'

Last year, The Saratogian checked out what was happening at Skidmore College on "4-20," a national event "celebrated" primarily on college campuses by smoking pot out in the open with impunity. The doings at Skidmore were mild, especially compared to some other big schools elsewhere. But it was still a story -- and the giant octopus bong made for memorable pictures. How much of a story was open for debate, and there was plenty of that. Some readers were appalled that such a thing occurred, while others found it laughable that college kids smoking pot was considered news. Still others condemned The Saratogian for being party-poopers and for letting a minority of students cast Skidmore in a negative light.
The same divergence of opinions exists a year later, though in recent months people across the country are increasingly willing to accept the concept of legalizing marijuana for medical uses.
Anyway, we revisited the Saratoga Springs college's campus at 4:20 on 4-20 and found, well, just a bunch of kids sitting around. It's the kind of followup you really have to do after having played it on the front page the year before.
This year, students were on notice from the college that an outdoor pot party would not be well-received. No tents or other enclosures were allowed on the lawn. So whatever pot smoking was going on that day wasn't happening then and there.
Who knows, some day it may become a legal recreational drug. Maybe.
Some comments on the story likened "protesting" the illegality of pot by smoking it out in the open to the civil disobedience of Rosa Parks. No matter what you think of the legalization of marijuana, the civil rights movements and Roas Parks should not be trivialized by such a silly comparison.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ouch, Barb goes for the jugular on the last sentence. Good Post Barb. It was just as news worthy as anything else. Your paper was not the party poopers. The students were their own party poopers.
At first they wanted you to be there last year. They thought your paper represented the extreme liberal left. They thought your paper was going to praise their acts of civil disobedience. Instead your paper showed a view from all sides of the argument. They didn’t get the bias political support they wanted so off with your heads. The tide changed and you were no longer wanted. In fact you became trespassers who were out for a story. Of course if you wrote the story the way they originally wanted it you would have just been great journalists who would always be welcome to shake hands with the octopus.
About 25 years ago an old police chief in this city told me, “Kid, if everybody’s happy with you, your probably not doing your job right”. I think his wisdom applies to journalists also. Your just doing your jobs and doing it right.

April 23, 2010 at 9:46 PM 

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