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urbanhistorynerd

420 Friendly in Graduate School

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Hello everybody! This is a sort of an odd question, but with cannabis legalization & decriminalization along with the progressive acceptance of recreational use, I'm wondering how that flows in graduate school.

Of course, I'm not speaking to actively smoking a joint in your department lobby, but among grad students & professors, what is the overall feel about this? Specifically when it comes to graduate student recreational or medical use. I've been a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policies for a while now, so I've always felt that my opinions on drug usage have been far more liberal than most people's, but I've been surprised at a few responses recently.

In short, is going home with a few colleagues and sparking a spliff as normal (or getting that way) as leaving class and getting drunk at the bar?

Also - my apologies if I am breaking a rule on this forum/website my discussing drug usage.

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2 hours ago, urbanhistorynerd said:

Hello everybody! This is a sort of an odd question, but with cannabis legalization & decriminalization along with the progressive acceptance of recreational use, I'm wondering how that flows in graduate school.

Of course, I'm not speaking to actively smoking a joint in your department lobby, but among grad students & professors, what is the overall feel about this? Specifically when it comes to graduate student recreational or medical use. I've been a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policies for a while now, so I've always felt that my opinions on drug usage have been far more liberal than most people's, but I've been surprised at a few responses recently.

In short, is going home with a few colleagues and sparking a spliff as normal (or getting that way) as leaving class and getting drunk at the bar?

Also - my apologies if I am breaking a rule on this forum/website my discussing drug usage.

This is not something I'd discuss in public, regardless of your position on marijuana legalization. Open discussion of drug use, at least in my experience, is not received well. 

It's also probably important to understand that your university can insist you submit to drug tests as a condition of employment. That five-year offer you got is not guaranteed. It's far more conditional than it looks at first glance.

To answer your question: most people won't care, but I would not advertise it.

Edited by psstein

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I don't smoke, but I'd say about 80% of the grad students in my department are open about their cannabis use, and maybe 20% of professors? As in they're not going to come up to you and be like DUDE I LOVE WEED but  don't treat it any differently than, say, heading to the bar for a beer.

But I'm at a pretty crunchy school; Harvard, as you might expect, seemed to have more of a stick up its ass. Or the people at Harvard were afraid that the stick was there and were more cagey as a result? Unclear.

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2 hours ago, urbanhistorynerd said:

In short, is going home with a few colleagues and sparking a spliff as normal (or getting that way) as leaving class and getting drunk at the bar?

Ultimately, the questions are:

  • Does a graduate school/parent institution have policies that provide guidance on matters centering around recreational drug use?
  • Will members of a department, regardless of their past or present practices and habits, look fondly upon graduate students who get buzzed, drunk, or high if such activity becomes a distraction when it comes to year-end evaluations?
  • Will future employment opportunities include a background check that includes questions about recreational drug use?
  • Are your intellectual skills such that you can afford the "time off" from getting lit and then getting your head back together?

A consideration. Those not in the circle of knowledge may never know if a department has had a hard time with a faculty or staff member or graduate student over drugs and booze. There can be an unspoken agreement to take steps in the future to cut ties sooner rather than later with such individuals in the near future.

 

 

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1 minute ago, Sigaba said:

Ultimately, the questions are:

  • Does a graduate school/parent institution have policies that provide guidance on matters centering around recreational drug use?
  • Will members of a department, regardless of their past or present practices and habits, look fondly upon graduate students who get buzzed, drunk, or high if such activity becomes a distraction when it comes to year-end evaluations?
  • Will future employment opportunities include a background check that includes questions about recreational drug use?
  • Are your intellectual skills such that you can afford the "time off" from getting lit and then getting your head back together?

A consideration. Those not in the circle of knowledge may never know if a department has had a hard time with a faculty or staff member or graduate student over drugs and booze. There can be an unspoken agreement to take steps in the future to cut ties sooner rather than later with such individuals in the near future.

 

 

Good information - and interesting/useful comments - and my dilemma is this: part of being an legalization activist is also being open (not loud) about your drug use in a movement to normalize it. Of course, it never be a thing I'd eagerly bring up in conversation say with a staff member or my adviser, but with my colleagues, it be the same way I'd discuss alcohol. Additionally, I think legalization in Massachusetts makes for a different attitude than say in Texas or New Mexico.

And @Sigaba very true regarding drug usage and the possible or sometimes even likely effects on your studies. In the case I'm thinking of, it be similar to take a weekend or a day off and relaxing, but with cannabis.

And I'm not sure about Harvard. I'd assume that the stick goes further up.

Going to working class oriented university, I've found that most of my professors have been very open about their recreational usage. I think that is an intersection of the 'student ghetto' and strong counterculture in the neighborhood that surrounds my university and that we've been known to historically harbor faculty that are way more sympathetic and engaged in those lifestyles. But, I'm sure I'll have to adjust that perspective a lot when it comes time to go to the Ivy.

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Just now, urbanhistorynerd said:

activist

Is Harvard investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in your education so you can be an activist (for any cause) or so you can learn the craft of professional academic history?

Also, IRT your working class background. I recommend that your pride in your achievement against incalculable odds not get in the way of the fact that you're attempting to join a profession that has rules situated in a different constellation of social and cultural assumptions and values. While the constellation has shifted over the last half century, certain values remain fixed.

While it is unlikely that any one or two professors are going to sit you down and walk you through the "rules of the road," you are expected to adhere to those rules--even if BTDTs appear not to themselves. (Or maybe because they don't.)

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Could we not say that our job as underrepresented Historians is to challenge those rules "situated in a different constellation of social and cultural assumptions and values" rather than acquiesce in them? Especially when those values emanate from a locus of power that has sought to exclude rather than include us? Do we become the enemy of people like us for our own self-benefit? To be frank, to get where I have, I underwent certain transformations to be more accepted by the academic audience and mainstream America (for instance, the alternation of my speech), but I have maintained my working-class values and, though I have shocked and confused at times, it has not hindered my academic achievement whatsoever. I recognize the utility of Sigaba's advice, and I sense a trend in his general advice not to rock the boat out of one's own self-interest. However, and perhaps this is my working-class background speaking, it does not sit comfortably with me. This is something that we must struggle with individually and ask ourselves exactly what we truly value and what we find reasonable to dispense with. There certainly is no hard one-fits-all rule.

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I live in a state that has legalized recreational cannabis and where discussion thereof is widespread and very normal. I also work within the state's largest academic institution, where I have never once heard open discussion of people's recreational use and where I had to pass a drug test before I was hired. I have had many conversations about drug policy with coworkers, but in none of those have people connected their feelings on policy to their own personal consumption. 

I'm sure part of the reason for that is that it's an academic health center, and healthcare has its own very specific culture. But I've seen firsthand how large institutions can be significantly more conservative than the surrounding culture, especially in education where there's Federal funding at stake. 

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You'll work this stuff out once you're there.... I'd try to go into a phd without too many expectations (academic or social). Chances are it won't be as you imagined, which is often a good thing. 

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As a counterpoint to some of the responses you've gotten... there's a person at my department who passed their dissertation defence while high and the whole department knows it. And people smoke marijuana occasionally at departmental parties (and, I'm sure, more regularly in smaller groups). It's not a big deal. Grad students are pretty open with each other about drug use.

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5 hours ago, daradara said:

Could we not say that our job as underrepresented Historians is to challenge those rules "situated in a different constellation of social and cultural assumptions and values" rather than acquiesce in them? Especially when those values emanate from a locus of power that has sought to exclude rather than include us? Do we become the enemy of people like us for our own self-benefit? To be frank, to get where I have, I underwent certain transformations to be more accepted by the academic audience and mainstream America (for instance, the alternation of my speech), but I have maintained my working-class values and, though I have shocked and confused at times, it has not hindered my academic achievement whatsoever. I recognize the utility of Sigaba's advice, and I sense a trend in his general advice not to rock the boat out of one's own self-interest. However, and perhaps this is my working-class background speaking, it does not sit comfortably with me. This is something that we must struggle with individually and ask ourselves exactly what we truly value and what we find reasonable to dispense with. There certainly is no hard one-fits-all rule.

There is a very, very fine line between maintaining decorum and rocking the boat.  I have seen working-class and/or very liberal students attempt to rock the boat.  What will make a difference in the eyes of your colleagues and professors is whether you will be willing to engage in a civil discourse, understand the limits of historical research, and protect your time and energy as a graduate student.

First, learn your department and institutional cultures including how drug use is discussed. This acclimation will take about a year. Then you can act accordingly to your beliefs (thought my recommendation is pass the exams first and then you will have a bit more leeway). If you are, however, the type not to be willing to trust the BTDTs on the basic level and follow their sensible advice on a variety of matters (including professionalization), then you will be very unhappy.  I have seen one case which a graduate student who deeply believed in anarchy and that rules did not exist (in their world) end very, very, very badly.

 

Edited by TMP

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8 minutes ago, TMP said:

I have seen one case which a graduate student who deeply believed in anarchy and that rules did not exist (in their world) end very, very, very badly.

 

I know this is probably way too specific a story to share but I’m dying to hear it!  😆

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2 hours ago, TMP said:

There is a very, very fine line between maintaining decorum and rocking the boat.  I have seen working-class and/or very liberal students attempt to rock the boat.  What will make a difference in the eyes of your colleagues and professors is whether you will be willing to engage in a civil discourse, understand the limits of historical research, and protect your time and energy as a graduate student.

First, learn your department and institutional cultures including how drug use is discussed. This acclimation will take about a year. Then you can act accordingly to your beliefs (thought my recommendation is pass the exams first and then you will have a bit more leeway). If you are, however, the type not to be willing to trust the BTDTs on the basic level and follow their sensible advice on a variety of matters (including professionalization), then you will be very unhappy.  I have seen one case which a graduate student who deeply believed in anarchy and that rules did not exist (in their world) end very, very, very badly.

 

Yes, I agree it it much better to wait until you are an established student before you begin bending anything. I have a professor who said, as you did, that it is best to wait until after your exams before one begins to act more freely within one's department and toward one's seniors. Until then, you are to maintain a certain decorum, so he thinks. Overall, great advice as usual, TMP. I am with fortsibut in being curious about the details of the story in the last line. 😆

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Walking home with colleagues and sparking a spliff is as normal as going to a bar at my university (Ivy).

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I can only speak for my own experiences, but I would feel pretty much completely comfortable smoking weed with...most (?) professors in my department, pretty much all students. Judge for yourself, get to know people, see what they're comfortable with and where you fit in. I've gotten shitty drunk with like four or five of my profs, but there's absolutely professors I would never allow to see me in that state because I know they would judge me.

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