Does Boulder’s 4-20 smoke-out denigrate a CU degree?

Does the 4-20 smoke-out “denigrate” the value of a CU degree “by helping to label CU-Boulder as a party school,” as CU-Boulder Vice Chancellors Frank Bruno and Julie Wong wrote in an e-mail to all students advising them not to attend?

After all, Playboy magazine ranks CU-Boulder as this year’s “top party school,” claiming that “nearly half the university’s 24,000-plus undergrads turn out for the annual 4/20 smoke-out.”  This figure is flimsy — Playboy isn’t known for hardcore scholarship after all. Wikipedia lists the peak attendance as 11,000 in 2008. Further, “University officials estimated that about 75 percent of those in attendance were not affiliated with CU,” reports the Camera.

In any case, recent research by Northwestern Professor Lauren Rivera lends credence to the Vice Chancellors’ claims. Rivera analyzed how elite investment banks, law firms, and management consulting firms “use and interpret educational credentials in real-life hiring decisions.”  She concluded the “that educational credentials were the most common criteria employers used to solicit and screen resumes.” When evaluating resumes, “school prestige was the most commonly used criterion … evaluators privileged candidates from the ‘top’ of ‘the list’ regardless of their grades, coursework, major, area of specialization, or prior work experience.”  When screening resumes, about 75% of recruiters used school prestige, while only 25% used standardized test scores.

So what to do?  One way to deflate 4-20 is to repeal the immoral and authoritarian laws against marijuana sales and use. That’s just one reason that CU Chancellors should support marijuana legalization.

This was originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera on April 23 2011.

See commentary on Rivera’s research at Arnold Kling’s EconLog post.

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1 Comment

Filed under public policy, published

One response to “Does Boulder’s 4-20 smoke-out denigrate a CU degree?

  1. Im grateful for the post. Great.

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