When people ask if you go to UVM, a frequent follow up question is ÒSo, you smoke weed?Ó
In my case, the answer is Òno.Ó As someone who is drug-free, I am often asked why I go to a school that is known for its so-called Òcannabis cultureÓ and fondness for getting high.
ÒDonÕt you feel like youÕre missing out? Or that you donÕt fit in?Ó People ask, their faces concerned.
To be honest, IÕve never felt deprived or excluded from the UVM experience by not smoking weed. And I believe that there are many people on campus who agree.
It is clear that the stereotype of the average UVM student includes a penchant for marijuana. North Face jacket? Check. Flannel? Check. Bong? Check.
Add some trees and some snow to the mental image, and voil?, you have UVM students in their natural environment.
It is assumed that when the weekend roles around, out come the pipes, blunts and joints. But is smoking weed as widespread on campus as people think?
The Cynic conducted a survey last April, and found that only 21 percent of students smoke Òoften.Ó
Additionally, while UVM Police Services has reported an increase in drug law violations by 56 percent in the past 10 years, there has not been an increase in the number of students reportedly smoking marijuana.
There is a strong culture of smoking at UVM, but that does not mean that it encompasses the majority of students on campus.
It is easy to assume that everyone is high on a daily basis when you see people smoking at the amphitheater or on the Redstone green, but campus surveys suggests otherwise.
The truth about marijuana users at UVM is that they are fairly open about their habits, at times surprisingly so.
The conversations one overhears in the library, in the March? and walking to class could give anyone the impression that they are perhaps the only person not getting high on the weekends.
For all the talk and the hype, there are plenty of people on campus who go about their everyday lives, neither smoking nor announcing it.
Most of us are easygoing and rather indifferent to whether others choose to smoke or not. We just donÕt choose to smoke personally and do other things with our time that we find more rewarding.
As 4/20 is on the horizon, the stereotype of the Birkenstock-wearing, weed-smoking, apathetic student will be reinforced in the perception of UVM campus culture, but that does not mean that it is the standard to which the majority of students hold themselves.
Stereotypes have their amusing qualities, but at the end of the day, it is foolish to apply them to the larger student body in defining campus culture.