CU-Boulder releases survey on '420' undergraduate participation

Published: July 30, 2011

The University of Colorado Boulder has released results from a study of its undergraduates' participation in the 2011 "420" gathering on the CU-Boulder campus. The study was done by CU-Boulder's Office of Housing and Dining Services and was sent to all CU-Boulder undergraduate students on April 21, 2011 -- the day after the gathering on the campus.

"This study gives us important data with which to better understand the 420 gathering at CU-Boulder," said Deb Coffin, interim vice chancellor for student affairs. "This event is not welcome on our campus, and we now know from this survey that 75 percent of the students that report attending do not smoke marijuana at the gathering -- a great critical mass of students to partner with as we work to end it."

Coffin noted the study, which included more than 3,700 CU-Boulder undergraduates (of approximately 23,000 full-time undergraduates at the school), also showed:

--Participation in the 420 gathering tails off as students progress from their freshman to senior year.

--Only 9 percent of respondents described the event as a "political movement," with a full 75 percent labeling it as either a "recreational gathering" (51 percent) or a "cultural happening" (18 percent).

--By a margin of more than two to one, students did not rate 420 as "a significant college experience," though in another question, 29 percent of respondents felt it was "very true" that 420 is "a CU tradition."

--Out-of-state students are more likely to participate in 420 and to rate it as a "CU tradition."

--Ninety-seven percent of students reported receiving communication from the university about the event.

--Students are split 50-50 on whether or not the event is an officially sponsored event (it is not).

"Though we are gratified that students report receiving our emails about not attending 420, the survey tells us that we need to continue to sharpen and deliver messages to our students, both in state and out of state, that 420 is not a CU tradition and is not sponsored by the university," Coffin said.

Dr. Don Misch, CU's assistant vice chancellor for health and wellness, said the report "provides new tools in helping us to understand the alcohol and drug culture at CU-Boulder."

"These are honest responses that not only give us pathways to better communication, but will be key in changing perceptions and the realities of drug and alcohol use on the campus," Misch said.

To see the survey results visit