Higher Learning

The CU-NORML Newsletter
page 3

University Drug Policy

CU-NORML Website

Benefit Concerts

Lecture Series

Campus Organizing


Columbia University Drug Policy

Goals for this semester include developing faculty support for a change in the policy, gaining the endorsement of campus media for a policy review commision, and educating the student body as to the reasons why a change in policy is needed. This is a long-term project and there are lots of things that can be done. Those interested in being involved should contact Aaron Wilson via e-mail or telephone at: (212) 781-5383.


CU-NORML Website

Guess what you're looking at! :-) We have had dozens of members sign up through this website over the last two semesters. If you have art, poetry, marijuana related information or even suggestions of other good sites on the web you are welcome to contribute to this ever growing site. Maintaining websites can be tedious when you have other commitments (I know!), so if you know HTML and would like to help contact Ia Nunez via e-mail or telephone at (212) 853-6814.


Benefit Concerts

We have now secured a good venue for a concert, and have applied for funding from SGB for capital to run a benefit concert to rasie additional money for the chapter. We are currently working to find bands willing to support the cause by playing for free.

We need volunteers to pull this event off. Prior concert experience is not necessary, as we can provide training. We are aiming to have three bands, for a $5 admission (members $3). We would appreciate any suggestions for bands to approach to play. Interested members should contact Eric Pflanzer via e-mail or telephone at (212) 853-3608.


Lecture Series

Dr. John Morgan came and spoke again last semester, drawing an audience of 70. We are planning to bring at least one speaker this semester. We hope to run a survey of the membership to find out what topics people might want to know and hear about. We are also actively looking to co-sponsor speakers with other students groups. A debate is also currently in the works that will likely touch upon prison and punishment issues, so keeps your eyes open!


Campus Organizing

Chapters of NORML have formed, or are forming, at CUNY Hunter, Queens College, and NYU. We hope to brach out a bit next semester, and help groups get started at SUNY-Stony Brook, Yale and Rutgers. Recently, work has begun on forming chapters at MIT, Boston College, and numerous other schools throughout Massachusetts. This was the result of a weekend postering trip all over the state, and provided enormous feedback. If you know people at any northeast school that might be interested in helping to start a group please let us know. Interested volunteers should contact Aaron Wilson through e-mail or by phone at (212) 781-5383.


University Residence Halls

an essay by Ia Nunez

Do you live in Columbia's dormitories? Do you sometimes wonder what that sweet smell floating down your hall is? Are you responsible for that sweet smell? Marijuana smoking is a fact in CU's dorms. Unfortunately, if you are a smoker of marijuana then you are probably aware of the risks involved.

One of these risks is getting caught smoking pot in a dormitory. Usually, what will happen is your case will be referred to a dean who will then proceed with disciplinary action. Sanctions can range from a semester of probation up to such extreme punishments as expulsion from housing or academic suspension. These sanctions can have lasting consequences in your academic and professional careers, not to mention being a huge pain in the ass in the short-run.

Several times last semester NORML members have contacted the Executive Board for help in dealing with URH harassment of them for smoking, alerting us to this problem. CU NORML believes that it is profoundly unfair that URH can jeopardize student's futures for a lifestyle choice that is really none of their business, but such is the nature of anti-drug hysteria. The URH Project is an initiative by CU NORML to change this situation, and to end the harassment and punishment of marijuana smokers who live in CU housing.

So what can be done to put a stop to this problem? There are two steps that CU-NORML sees to elimination of this problem. They are protection and prevention.

Protection starts with you. Although much illegal drug use from LSD to heroin to underage drinking occurs in the dorms, pot smokers consistently get singled out and punished much more often than users of any other illegal substance. The reason is self-evident: marijuana smoke can easily be detected. Other, less odoriferous forms of drug use, such as heroin or cocaine, are much harder for Housing staff to detect.

While it is counter-productive for the University to punish the use of one of the least damaging of the drugs used by students, while avoiding dealing with potentially more dangerous substances, that is exactly what happens on a regular basis.

This is where you come in. The first step in protecting yourself is to take necessary precautions. This involves things like the LTS system. Lock your door. Place a Towel under and above (if possible) the edges of your door to prevent smoke from leaking into the halls. And invest in an air-freshening Spray.

The second step is to know your rights. If someone knocks on your door ask who it is. If you don't want to let them in, then don't. Remember that you do have rights as an American citizen. You have the right to not have your property searched or seized without a warrant. You have the right to not incriminate yourself. These are just as important as your rights to free speech and freedom of religion. Don't give them up! If you find yourself in a situation where you feel that letting someone into your room may result in some kind of negative action assert your rights. Be polite, but firm.

There are a variety of protection techniques that smokers can employ to protect themselves from arbitrary punishment. A large part of the URH project will be Peer-Education, to teach dorm residents how to prevent harassment by URH staff. Peer education could involve dorm meetings, distribution of literature and lectures by NORML attorneys on what student's rights are, etc.

The second method is prevention. This means stopping the process of harassing marijuana users before it starts. CU-NORML is currently involved in an attempt to get URH to stop pursuing and "writing up" marijuana smokers. This involves convincing RA's to abandon day to day enforcement and the cessation of disciplinary sanctions for marijuana use by the University.

A variety of ideas are being discussed to reach this goal, all of which revolve around engaging RA's and other housing staff in a on-going positive relationship with CU NORML. For example, we are proposing to the RHD of Carman Hall that the First-Year Program and CU NORML co-sponsor a drug education program. This proposal was the result of survey NORML members conducted of almost 200 Carman residents in mid-November. That survey found that there was a strong interest in having effective drug education available to students, as well as showing that very large majority of Carman residents were unoffended and unaffected by student marijuana use.

We are offering to help develop, fund and implement a fact-and harm-reduction based drug ed program, which will help prevent drug abuse among students. Of course, trust-damaging and counter-productive policies such as punishing residents for smoking pot will have to end in order for such a program to occur (get the idea?). We want your RA to build community, not break it down by alienating students and creating an atmosphere of fear and distrust.

By demonstrating that Columbia's marijuana smokers are responsible, and do not harm or offend the community at large, we are working to undermine the justification for the current policy of harassment and punishment.

In order for the current situation to change you must get involved. CU NORML is nothing without the backing of the student population. So, if you are tired of being singled out and persecuted for using marijuana, if you are tired of ineffectual and image based policies, and if you are tired of living in fear, then do something that will make a change! Get involved by contacting CU NORML and find out how you can help.



[ Higher Learning | Current Events | Outside Resources | Membership | Facts or Fiction ]