Put this in your pipe and smoke it
I’m a non-traditional student. When I was your age, I drank, partied and screwed my way out of several state universities in the Deep South. It’s not that these fine institutions expelled me for deviant behavior, but that drinking, getting stoned and fornicatin’ ordinarily precluded me from attending class. If you think that Orgo test is going to be difficult after a 22-hour Adderall binge—you should try it after shotgunning six-packs through a whiffle ball bat, followed by a couple of hits from a makeshift gravity bong fashioned from a three-foot-tall piggy bank named Iggy (true story). Yeah, things were a little different back then.
First among them was the smoking policy. As you entered or exited any building, hall or dorm—you would pass through a hazy cloud of cigarette smoke looming like the early morning fog that blankets the misty mountains of Appalachia. Inside the foggy vapor was a collection of students and professors hobnobbing and feeding their addictions. In addition to getting cancer and making friends with strangers, we smokers used to be prettier than you. Remember James Dean leaning across the door of his convertible Porsche? How ‘bout Audrey Hepburn sucking one down through a fashionable cigarette holder in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. No? Never mind. Us smokers have been bastardized in the name of public health—actually we’ve been adulterated in the name of countenance to increase the aesthetic demeanor of the University’s grounds (read image)—but that’s neither here nor there. I get it. Times have changed, and I was beginning to get used to it until the other day while traversing the 50 meters between the Psychology building and the public sidewalk on Forsyth.
While sparking up a death stick, I was stopped by the University police. Did I just get pulled over for smoking while strolling? Yup. He ran my driver’s license and student ID while initiating a stern expletive-filled lecture on the University’s smoking policy, all a mere 20 feet from the safety of the public sidewalk. I complied with significant eye rolling and a respectful discourse on my physical location—“a pole of which I will still not touch the Grinch” away from the safety and liberty of St. Louis County and away from the totalitarian regime of Washington University. In the days that followed, I received a “summons” via email stating that I was in violation of “rule/ policy/ regulation – 20. Knowingly or recklessly violating a published University policy, rule, or regulation; or participating in conduct which one should reasonably know to be a violation of a published University policy, rule, or regulation” and instructed to appear before the director of judicial programs, Tamera King, J.D. If I were to be found guilty of the “charges,” the penalty would include a $200 fine.
While I still find it difficult to treasure the merit of the University’s smoking policy, I am positively aghast at the degree of enforcement. Lighting a cigarette a stone’s throw from the designated area is a lot like driving 2 mph over the speed limit. Is it a violation? Yes. But justice transcends the letter of the law. It comprises ethics, moral righteousness and rationality. My whole-hearted belief is that an institution that so unambiguously envelops such values might project them onto those responsible for public safety. Only pure boredom can possibly account for this travesty of law enforcement. Clearly you kids need to raise a little more hell and keep the cops busier.