Published: April 3, 2015

Dear CU-Boulder students, faculty and staff:

April 20 is fast approaching and some of you may have questions regarding campus operations for that day. For the past three years, CU-Boulder closed the campus to non-affiliates on April 20 to avoid the disruptive gatherings that attracted thousands of attendees from around the state and the country in earlier years. And fortunately, those types of gatherings have not occurred since 2011.

I told you last year that I hoped campus closures would not be necessary in the near-future and that we could go about our daily business on April 20 as we would any other day. That time has come.

On this April 20, the campus will remain open to students, faculty, staff and visitors, as it would normally be. The only exception to this will be the lawn areas of the Norlin Quad, which will be closed that afternoon. Depending on other factors, additional fields may also be closed. Those who ignore the barriers and cross onto the Norlin lawn or any additional closed fields can face a citation or arrest for trespassing. While you may see a presence of campus police enforcing the closure areas, officers will not be checking IDs of those on campus like they have in past years.

We’ve made this decision in consultation with key campus stakeholders, including the CU Student Government. Eliminating the unauthorized 4/20 gathering was never about curtailing free speech or taking a stance on drug policy. Actually, as voters in additional states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, we think it’s a key time to continue discussions on this important topic. In support of that effort, for the second consecutive year, I will be talking about the history of 4/20 and CU-Boulder’s marijuana policies in a Cannabis Symposium on campus later this month. Furthermore, at next week’s Conference on World Affairs, federal and state drug policies will be the primary topic for three sessions.

Why is this year the right time to open the campus? After three years of closing the campus to non-affiliates, the public understands that we are serious about eliminating this gathering that disrupted the academic mission of the university. At the same time, there are now several sanctioned events occurring April 18-20 around the Denver metro region for people to attend. We have made great strides over the past three years, and I thank all of you for your patience and cooperation in helping us toward that goal.

If you have any questions, suggestions or complaints, we encourage you to contact us at


Philip P. DiStefano, chancellor
University of Colorado Boulder