Dear President Tiefenthaler,
Upon reading your e-mail regarding Colorado College’s marijuana policy I must admit that I was slightly confused by your logic. Essentially, you are asserting that on a practical level the school, because of the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, cannot allow marijuana on campus because we could lose federal funding and financial aid for students. This part of the letter makes sense and seems like a perfectly defendable reason not to allow marijuana; financial aid and federal funding are a key part of getting the best students into our great school and it would be irresponsible to risk losing this aid over marijuana.
However, while this excellent point is well taken, it is strangely sandwiched between a much more dubious assertion: that marijuana inherently undermines the school’s ability to “foster a healthy learning environment.” How, specifically, do you define a healthy learning environment? It seems hypocritical to claim that marijuana destroys the school’s learning environment when at the same time our school endorses drinking through a variety of activities. If one thinks about the differences in behavior between the drunk and the stoner it is hard not to wonder which substance is more detrimental to academic life. There is no moral high ground from which you can defend a staunch policy against marijuana while simultaneously ignoring the issue of alcohol. From this principled but unthinking position, either both substances should be banned outright or students should be free to decide responsibly for themselves.
Additionally, your assertion that students will be expected to respect the Code of Conduct both on campus and off-campus is blindly optimistic. In my four years at this school one of the running jokes has always been that if you needed to find a new drug dealer just go knock on any random door in Mathias, or for that matter Loomis, Slocum, Bemis, McGregor etc. In four years pot policy has never changed at this school; as long as students are not disruptive and blatantly obvious, they can pretty much smoke at their leisure. Furthermore, despite our complete lack of enforcement I have received a great education and marijuana has never threatened my academic experience.
Given this school’s history it frustrates me that your office would send out such a blatantly misguided defense of policy. There are two much better options for your office regarding marijuana and Colorado College. First, we could be a progressive liberal arts school and begin having a sincere dialogue about marijuana on campus. This would be a good idea since we already lecture freshman to death on alcohol during their first week. Why not at least give them a hint about pot? Second, your office could simply say we will lose federal funding and therefore there is nothing we can do. Personally, I do not care which of these options you choose but I am certain that both are better options than defending a policy through logic that is so fundamentally out of touch with our campus.