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Admissions Office excludes Cannabis Club from event

The full gamut of student clubs and activities were invited to the Student Activities Fair April 22nd, part of the Open Campus weekend when newly admitted students and their families have the chance to visit the campus and learn about student life. But the Cannabis Law Reform club, at the request of the Office of Admission, did not attend the event.

Rachael Friedman ’14, who founded the group at the start of this semester, received an email, and later a phone call, from Admission Counselor Kathleen Abels asking her to abstain from participating in the event.

Although she agreed, Friedman admitted she was not content with the situation. “I thought it was completely unfair that I wasn’t allowed to be there,” said Friedman.

Friedman’s intent in forming the club was to create an environment in which students could investigate the legal issues surrounding marijuana use in the United States, bringing the national movement promoting the alteration of laws regarding cannabis to Haverford. In addition to weekly discussions, the group plans to bring activists and reform advocates to the Tri-Co.

For Friedman, marijuana reform is an issue of  “compassion”. Unjust punishments for users and people implicated by the production and concealed distribution of marijuana are among the things she condemns. “Drug wars affect many more people than those who use them…It’s much more a humanitarian cause than a drug-use related thing,” she explains.

Dean of Admission Jess Lord insists that the incongruity of the situation arose from the nature of the event, saying that he and the Admission Office wished to make “no personal or political judgment on her club” but that he was unconvinced that the Student Activities Fair on Open Campus Day was “an appropriate space for something of [the club’s] nature.”

Although he believes such discussion-based clubs and the intellectual curiosity they foster are “an incredibly important part of the landscape at Haverford,” Lord says the “inarguably controversial nature” of the club has no place at an admissions event.

“The Student Activities Fair is not a Haverford event,” said Lord. “It is an admissions event.”

Lord clarified that such controversial debates are “effective in the context of the larger community and educational experience, which is not provided at the admitted students’ Activities Fair. Without that context, [the issue] could be taken very differently.”

Still, it came as a shock to Friedman when her club was asked not to attend the Student Activities Fair. “I know it’s a sensitive subject, and that’s exactly why I want to discuss it,” Friedman said.


  1. rtspcc May 14, 2012

     What’s next: Will they not allow Students for Justice in Palestine? or SAGA? Lot’s of people would find those contentious issues.

    • RJ Rushmore May 15, 2012

      Were the SJP and SAGA at the fair? I assume so, but I don’t remember.

      • rtspcc May 16, 2012

         SAGA has been in the past. I don’t know about SJP.

  2. smoqueed May 15, 2012

    This isn’t even the only instance. Franklyn, the moderator of the discussion section of the go board, deleted a cannabis law reform related post made by Rachael for no reason other than that he didn’t agree with the stance she took.

  3. hcstudent12 June 5, 2012

    Seriously, guys? This article (and the comments) seem to me like they are demonizing the Office of Admissions, implying that to deny the Cannabis Reform Club an opportunity to participate in Open Campus Weekend is somehow manipulative. While I certainly support a venue on campus that calls attention to and allows for debate regarding marijuana law/punishment/reform, let’s be real for a second: marijuana is an illegal drug. Cannabis Reform Club supports the legalization of this illicit substance. I understand why the Office of Admissions would be hesitant to include a club on campus that wholeheartedly endorses an illegal drug.
    @@rtspcc:disqus  – to compare the exclusion of the Cannabis Reform Club to Students for Justice in Palestine or SAGA is, quite frankly, offensive.

    • RJ Rushmore June 5, 2012

      Gay marriage is an illegal act in Pennsylvania and my guess is that SAGA supports the legalization of this illicit act.

    • Rachael Friedmann August 3, 2012

      did you even read the article? this is exactly the kind of narrow-minded thinking that Cannabis Law Reform Club is trying to fight. the club is raising awareness of the medically unjustified government scheduling of cannabis (including hemp….which has no psychoactive effects whatsoever) and the racially slanted, lie-driven, tax dollar-wasting drug war which other countries are begging us to end.

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