A Reedie tipped us off to an interesting email the entire Reed campus received this week from the a federal and Multnomah County District Attorney. The Reed community has been shaken this year by two student deaths, one from a heroin overdose. The attorneys say it's time to clamp down on Renn Fayre, the annual graduation bacchanal that traditionally involves everything from bouncy castles to LSD.
The Reedie who sent me the letter noted that it was "kinda radly written for something coming from the District Attorney" and I agree—it spells out why and how the changes need to occur, when other law enforcement might just come down hard saying "thems the rules."
Here's the letter. Any Reedies want to offer an opinion?
To Students, Faculty, Staff and All Members of the Reed Community:
Your world has been shaken by the deaths of Sam Tepper and Alejandro Lluch. We are deeply sorry for your loss. For such talent and promise to be abruptly cut off by pointless death is an unspeakable tragedy.
But while now may be a time for reflection and grief, it is also a time for action. It is now time for the Reed community to abandon the myth that drug use is a safe and acceptable form of exploration. It is time for Renn Fayre and Reed to adopt a zero tolerance policy prohibiting illegal drugs flat-out.
The illegal drug trade has changed radically since the days when giants like Alan Ginsberg and Gary Snyder ‘51 roamed campus here. The fact is that the drug trade is now fueled by one of the most potent forces in the West: greed.
The big-businessification of the illegal drug trade has transformed drug use, bringing new and volatile dangers. First, like any other multibillion dollar industry, drug cartels have invested heavily in R and D efforts — for cartels, to create newly powerful and increasingly addictive drugs. The R and D is targeted to two related objectives: increasing potency, and increasing addiction. This is about profit — addiction means dollars in a drug cartel’s bank account. By engineering increasingly potent product, drug cartels get more users hooked faster. The results are obvious — from heroin to marijuana, drug potency has increased exponentially in the last decade. This is precisely why Sam Tepper died — shockingly potent heroin caused his body to simply shut down.
Second, mimicking the corporate model, drug cartels have adopted aggressive and predatory marketing strategies. Dealers now offer home delivery and slashed prices — following the practices of pizza delivery and big box stores. Heroin dealers have started hanging out at methadone clinics, where they offer people trying to get well a home-delivered high that is cheaper than the trip to the clinic.
Most importantly for you, today’s drug dealer is targeting middle class and wealthier kids: it’s an unexploited market with more cash and less guns, and it avoids competition with bigger Mexican drug cartels, who have traditionally targeted people living in poor communities. To be perfectly clear: the new market which drug dealers are targeting is you.
It is tempting to try to set the deaths of Sam and Alejandro apart — Sam was off campus, maybe their drugs came from off campus, it was the big H, not a “recreational” drug.
Don’t get sucked in by this bogus Siren call. The fact is that if the Reed community insists that this is “not our problem” and tries to draw distinctions between “hard” and other drugs, you will send the message that drug use can be safe.
The dangers are real, and the deaths of Sam and Alejandro are all the proof you should need.
It is time for the Reed community to embrace the notion that drug use is not safe and it will not be tolerated — without fine print, without provisos, and without conditions.
As the top federal prosecutor in Oregon and the Multnomah County District attorney, we have a responsibility to this community — including you and your families. We cannot, and we will not stand by if drug use is tolerated on your campus. We cannot, and we will not stand by if Renn Fayre is a repeat of years past — where even in the wake of Alejandro Lluch’s death drug use and distribution were allegedly rampant.
Our hope is that the Reed community will take this problem head on, and declare once and for all that you are ready to end this problem now. It will take a change in policy, attitude and culture, it will require stronger support for people trying to kick drug habits — and most importantly it will require a radical change in conduct.
We have great admiration and respect for your remarkable accomplishments — those in the past and those in your future. Reed students and alums have expanded our horizons and led in every field of science and the arts for generations. Oregonians are rightly proud that you call Portland home.
It is clear that President Diver and Dean Brody are committed to tackling this challenge. We are hopeful that you are ready to join them.
We stand ready to help in any way we can. If need be, we will use all the tools available to us in federal and state law enforcement. We owe that to the people of our community, including you.
Dwight C. Holton Michael D. Schrunk
United States Attorney District Attorney
District of Oregon Multnomah County
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