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The comment I heard most frequently regarding last week's pot cover was regarding the timing: "What if you were a parent dropping your student off to start school at HSU?"

Well, I've actually had some experience along those lines. My husband and I have successfully navigated the minefield of raising three children to adulthood right here in Humboldt County. All three attended local schools with fairly easy access to drugs off campus and often on campus, and later, at HSU or another college. It wasn't easy. Sometimes they screwed up. Sometimes we did. Bottom line is today they are all competent, successful adults with careers and families of their own. How did we do it? Not by sticking our heads in the sand and pretending something didn't exist.

One daughter went to Reed College in Portland, a school with a pretty liberal reputation. (Throwing condoms on the beds of new students as a welcome gift was one thing, but I never quite got used to the college's co-ed bathrooms. Often I would find myself staring at a pair of very large sneakers and unfamiliar extremely hairy legs in the next stall.) I can still vividly recall our Reed parent orientation meeting. Basically they told us, "Your kid is an adult. Get over it." This was a school that expected its students to think and act for themselves, make their own choices, live with the consequences and solve their own problems. If a conflict couldn't be handled by those directly involved, it went to the "J Council," fellow students who resolved whatever it was. The orientation speaker then told us a joke: He said Reed College had only three strict rules: no dogs, no firearms and no climbing on the roofs of the dorms. "So the first thing our students do is take their dogs up on the roof and shoot off their guns," he said. "Then we get down to the business of education."

What he was really telling us was that our children had reached the age of majority, "...the chronological moment when children legally assume majority control over their persons and their actions and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of their parents over and for them." (Wikipedia)

The availability of pot is already part of the lives of the incoming college freshman no matter where they are coming from or going to. It's not just a Humboldt County thing. Yes, it's one source of parental anxiety. But if you're dropping off your kid at college, how worried are you about the obesity epidemic? Did you teach your kid to make healthy food choices, shun high fructose corn syrup and incorporate exercise into their lives? Because the way things are going this generation -- with soaring type II diabetes -- is headed for a shorter and much less healthy life than you are. Are they tobacco smokers? Well, worry about that. How's their mental health and how comfortable are they about their sexuality? Do they know how to get down to Planned Parenthood or the health center and protect themselves against STDs? What about alcohol abuse and binge drinking?

Last week was not the first time we have been asked to remove copies of this newspaper from racks because we put something on the cover that someone wanted to see ignored -- and it probably won't be the last. In the early '90s we put a homeless man who had been living in the bushes behind the Bayshore Mall on the cover. Paul Kirk, who was county supervisor for the 5th District at the time and a member of the Trinidad Chamber, was furious and personally banned the Journal from Trinidad because "tourists might see it and think we had homeless people in Humboldt County." This time it was the board of Arcata Main Street (not the Arcata Chamber of Commerce, by the way). The board asked that we remove the Journal from the Jacoby's Storehouse for one week and we complied.

A much more level-headed response came from the HSU. Public Information Officer Paul Mann was quoted in this week's Arcata Eye as saying the removal of any newspapers from campus "would be Stalinist."

Listen up, students. You just learned something. Oh, Mann also said the university intends to fully enforce all current drug laws. And the consequences are yours alone.

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Judy Hodgson

Judy Hodgson is a co-founder of the North Coast Journal.

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