This Is Your Brain on Drugs


Reed College, the tiny (1,442 students) and incredibly academically rigorous school in Portland, Ore., has an annual festival called Renn Fayre. Renn Fayre begins when students hand in their theses to the registrar and then burn their notes accumulated during the year. Then Reed has a weekend of intense partying, traditionally accompanied by a very permissive attitude toward drugs.

Not this year. According to an article in the New York Times by Tamar Lewin:

After the heroin overdose death of a Reed College student last month, law enforcement authorities in Portland, Ore., told Reed’s president, Colin Diver, to rein in drug use at his campus.

At a meeting at the federal courthouse Thursday, a United States attorney and the county district attorney told Mr. Diver that they planned to send undercover agents this weekend to the Renn Fayre festival….M

“When you say Reed, two words often come to mind,” Mr. Diver said. “One is brains. One is drugs.”

In the last two years, two different Reed students have died from Heroin overdoses. This is apparently the justification for the undercover agents and “zero tolerance” policy at Renn Fayre, though neither student died during the festival.

“It’s a complicated issue, but two drug deaths in two years on a campus of 1,300 students, something has to change,” said Dwight C. Holton, the United States attorney for Oregon. There was also a third death at Reed. Another read student was found dead in her room in March. This one was apparently unrelated to drugs.

Someone should maybe tell Ithaca.[Image via]

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer