"We're at that point where we're saying, 'Enough,'" CU-Boulder spokesperson Bronson Hilliard said on Friday. "We don't want this on our campus."
Over the last few years as many as 10,000 people have descended annually onto the campus in an effort to simultaneously smoke marijuana at 4:20 p.m. on April 20. The university has tried, mostly in vain, to keep the crowds away. In 2005, for example, university officials tried to scatter the crowds by turning on sprinklers. In 2006, CU Boulder police snapped pictures of various smokers and put the pictures on a website.
This year, the campus will be off limits for "unauthorized visitors."
"We will have checkpoints on the perimeter of the campus and also within the perimeter as well," CU Boulder Police spokesperson Ryan Huff said.
The university will remain open to students, faculty, staff and authorized visitors. Members of the news media will have to be credentialed in order to cover the events of the day.
"Traffic is going to be bad that day," Huff said.
According to a CU news release, "Students, faculty, staff and all CU-Boulder affiliates will need their Buff OneCard IDs to get on and around the campus. Those not affiliated with CU-Boulder will not be permitted on campus and face tickets for trespassing."
The Norlin Quad will be closed for everyone. CU Police also say they will issue tickets for marijuana possession, but Huff insists it's not a top priority.
"This is not about marijuana. It's about a major disruption in the heart of campus, and it's something we want to end," he said.
But, not all students agree with the university's decision.
"When people think of Boulder they think of 4/20, so I think the penalties are unfair," Olivia Shuss, a sophomore at CU, said.
The university says anyone caught on campus without the proper identification will be considered trespassing and could face up to a $750 fine and up to six months in jail.
"It's going to create a lot of problems, I feel, based on people coming to visit the campus," Keith Beauvais, a freshman at CU, said.
The Boulder County ACLU chapter says the university's decision to close campus is a violation of student's right to assemble. An attorney for the organization issues the following statement:
"The decision to close the CU campus is a wrongheaded and misguided effort to thwart students' right of association and right of expression. Although the Constitution does not provide a right to smoke pot in public, the First Amendment does protect the right to associate with others to amplify the power and force of a collective protest against government policy. Not everyone who joins a 4/20 protest is violating the marijuana laws. Students who wish to protest the marijuana laws have a constitutional right to invite others to join them. By closing the campus to visitors, establishing checkpoints, assigning uniformed police to check papers, and threatening arrests of visitors without proper credentials, the university disserves the values that underlie the First Amendment and the right to dissent."
Huff says the university's policy allows the chancellor to close the campus for any event that disrupts the campus or poses a threat to students and faculty.
The ACLU has not said if they will take the matter to court.
For more information visit, http://colorado.edu/news/releases/2012/04/13/university-colorado-closed-unauthorized-visitors-non-affiliates-april-20.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)