The Statesman has collected several stories from the newspaper’s archives that show how drug policies and culture have impacted Stony Brook University in the earlier years of its history.
Jan. 17, 1968: About 200 Suffolk County Police Department officers carried out a drug bust on campus at 5 a.m. by coming into Stony Brook University dormitories and arresting 24 students for marijuana possession. The police department detailed the plans for the bust in a 107-page report titled “Operation Stony Brook.” The editors of The Statesman at the time wrote an editorial decrying the bust: “The petty bureaucrats and opportunistic members of our State and County are enjoying a field day. However our main concern in the next few weeks and months while the hearings, discussions and debates are taking place is not to involve ourselves in meaningless arguments with officials outside of the University, but to show the outside community that we are indeed capable of ‘maintaining ourselves.’”
Sept. 1969: The Stony Brook Council and the university administration announced two new regulations concerning drug use: (1) students arrested for drug charges may be suspended from the university, and those convicted are subject to expulsion and (2) John Toll, then the university president, received authorization to establish new judicial bodies to hear cases involving campus demonstrations. Resident assistants condemned the Council’s new rules and announced that they would not enforce them due to the lack of student participation and approval in the rules’ creation. In addition then state Sen. John Hughes’ Joint Legislative Committee on Crime concluded that drug use at Stony Brook had increased since the Jan. 17, 1968 bust, and the administration did not do enough to quell the problem.
April 1975: About 400 Stony Brook University students attended a marijuana festival in Roth Quad without any arrests. Students not only smoked marijuana but also enjoyed sipping beer, playing instruments, throwing frisbees, flying kites, blowing soap bubbles and listening to live music from New York City street singer David Peel. “We didn’t see any crimes being committed,” said Thomas Warren, then lieutenant of campus security. “We saw them the students having a good time dancing with the band.” At the festival, members of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML circulated petitions calling for the decriminalization of marijuana and other changes to New York State drug laws.
March 1, 1999: The Statesman published a report on a new law, an amendment to the 1998 Higher Education Act, that suspended eligibility for grants, loans or work assistance for students that are found guilty of possessing or selling drugs. “It is going to be so difficult to implement it,” said Ana Maria Torres, then the director of financial aid at Stony Brook University. The Drug Reform Coordination Network, a student-led organization, led the opposition effort against the law with participation on more than 80 campuses.
As I enter my senior citizen days, I fondly remember good times in “G” lobby and Stony Brook.