UVM’s student body smokes the most weed out of any college or university in the U.S., according to an Aug. 6, 2019 Business Insider article.
Smoking cannabis itself is a non-issue. Though the CDC notes teens using cannabis are more likely to be at risk for mental health issues, there has never been a fatal overdose from cannabis, according to the CDC.
If the UVM administration wants fewer students smoking, they need to provide more activities and encourage participation in them. The biggest factor contributing to smoking is the lack of University-sanctioned activities.
It became clear after my first year here that smoking weed has more to do with boredom than any deeply entrenched cultural experience.
UVM punishes its students through fines for use of intoxicants, according to UVM’s annual student conduct statistics. In the 2019-20 school year, 128 students received conduct violations for drugs and 513 students received violations for alcohol.
The Drug Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989 requires institutions of higher education to establish policies against unlawful possession in order to receive any form of federal funding, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
The pandemic significantly impacted large gatherings, but even within precautionary measures, UVM lacks social events for students.
During my first two weeks I attended UVM-backed activities: a strip drag show in the amphitheater, tons of food trucks, ax-throwing and a neon silent disco.
UVM hosts the Week of Welcome, a week-long event full of free events, according to the Department of Student Life.
These events allowed new people to meet each other and fostered a sense of community within the campus. During this time I noticed considerably fewer people smoking, despite the good weather.
UVM Bored, a student-run calendar, catalogs events, and honorably tries their best to keep the student body occupied.
However, a Feb. 6 winter edition of the calendar suggests a Monopoly night or a Twilight book club, which are in no way enticing when the memories of a mythic first two weeks are still fresh in the mind.
A UVM Bored newsletter from Feb. 14, 2019 showcases a Valentine’s Day masquerade ball, though this was six miles away in Essex Junction.
As the months continue and the temperature drops, the selection of activities shrink, and the list of free attractions plummet.
UVM needs a happy medium with money spent on early-year events and the rest of the year.
Instead of going all out those first two weeks, they should spread out events across the seasons.
Without UVM-run activities, winter becomes a season in which many stay home, and out of boredom with a lack of things to do, smoke copious amounts of cannabis.
UVM cannot rely on students to provide themselves with all the entertainment that campus has to offer.
This is an issue that goes back further than COVID-19 and the fear of large gatherings.
The University needs to do a better job organizing events, especially in the winter.
Until UVM does this, administrators can’t be surprised when students find other activities, like smoking, for entertainment.