Cake week, Monday edition: Reefer badness!

This past weekend was spent gathering ingredients and starting a little holiday baking, so I thought a little cake blogging would be in order this week, which is finals’ week at Baa Ram U.  More cake and baking fun will follow, but today’s post offers a cautionary tale.  Friends, although the people of this great state have voted to decriminalized recreational pot use for people 21 and older, it’s still illegal to feed your classmates and your proffie pot brownies without their full consent:

Two University of Colorado at Boulder students are facing multiple felony charges after they allegedly fed marijuana-laced brownies to their unsuspecting history class — leading to the hospitalization of three people.

The professor of the course was taken to a hospital by paramedics Friday after complaining of dizziness and dropping in and out of consciousness.

.       .       .       .       .

Thomas Ricardo Cunningham, 21, and Mary Elizabeth Essa, 19, baked THC-laced brownies for their class at the Hellems Arts and Sciences Building on Friday, said Ryan Huff, CU police spokesman.

After the professor was taken to the hospital, a student’s mother notified campus police that her daughter, who had been in the professor’s class, was in the hospital after having a panic attack.

Later that day, the parents of another student in the same class took their daughter to a hospital after she told them she felt like she would black out.

Eight people out of the class of 12 fell ill from the brownies.

The names of the professor and students were not released by the police.

Police said it was clear that the students’ intent was to have the unsuspecting class consume the brownies.

“There could be prison time involved in this case,” Huff said.

The charges include second- degree assault and inducing consumption of controlled substances by fraudulent means.

The brownies were brought as part of a “bring food to class” day. Police said the brownies and some orange juice were the only items brought to class.

First rule for proffies:  don’t bake for students.  Second rule:  don’t ask them to bake anything, either.  Boundaries, people!  Boundaries.

(Even in Boulder, there are people to whom being stoned feels like “a panic attack,” or at least that’s what they tell their mothers.  Whatever.
What’s with all of the parents in this story?  Don’t people go to college to get away from their parents anymore?)

38 thoughts on “Cake week, Monday edition: Reefer badness!

  1. Sorry, disagree with the no food in school rule. One of the best parts of seminar system at Swat was the food break every week (on a rotating basis) and the culminating dinner with prof. (Some profs cooked, some did take out, some had dinner with class together in dining hall).


  2. According to campus legend, The Little College on the Little Hill used to have a daily “sherry hour” for students and professors to relax in the frat houses in the late afternoon. That’s a custom I wouldn’t mind reviving (with modifications like women). I sometimes bring my students donuts or leftover Halloween candy, but leave it at that. But no, kids, you do need to *ask* people before you feed them an unexpected substance. . .

    It will be interesting to watch how Colorado colleges deal with this!


  3. Dave–it’s the baking I object to, not the eating more generally. I hardly bake for anyone–except at this time of the year–but I sure as heck would never and will never bake for students.

    (And, I also think it’s strange to ask the students to bring something to eat. I don’t mind if they do it on their own, but I would never ask for it or suggest it.)


  4. uh oh. Pot brownies can be bad. They offer up that ‘all over body’ kind of stoned feeling. That can be kind of scary if you haven’t experienced it before. I could see how someone who didn’t know what they had eaten might feel like they were having a panic attack, or worse. Not cool. Very stupid on the part of the brownie bakers.

    I think baking for the class is nice. I’ve only done it with classes I’ve really liked or for the student history club pot luck at the end of Fall semester (Tarte Tatin, once or twice).

    I had a colleague who taught a food history class and the student projects involved cooking or presenting a relevant food for that week’s seminar. I think it was a worthy learning objective and students could bring in store bought stuff if they could not cook.


  5. Almost every semester a student will give me a gift of chocolates or some other treat. I usually chuck it, just in case it’s poisoned — but at the same time I always worry that I’m getting too weird and paranoid!

    We had a sherry hour in grad school. It rocked.


  6. “What’s with all of the parents in this story? Don’t people go to college to get away from their parents anymore?”

    We get more and more calls from parents. I had one recently from a parent who thought I had fallen down on my job as an ACADEMIC advisor, because her child could not figure out how to get on the meal plan. I have been lucky enough not to have the calls many of my colleagues have had: “My son/daughter is not an F student. You obviously have done something wrong.” One of my Sociology colleagues had a father tell her that his child should not get a C in her course since Sociology is an easy subject.

    This triggers endless conversations around: “What’s with all these parents?!?” I definitely (defiantly, even) went to college to get away from my parents (and my home town). There was NO WAY I was going to share information with my parents about my new world.

    Additionally, there was no way my parents would blame my professors for my bad performance. They assumed, correctly, that my bad grades were my own damn fault.


  7. Matt, thanks for the intel. Never having had a pot brownie (wittingly or unwittingly) I probably shouldn’t have judged. Tarte Tatin: a nice touch! (And a recipe sure to use up some of those apples I have most autumns. I still have a giant bin of them in the garage, which I should probably compost.)

    ProfSweddy: may your helicopter parents remain on your side of the mountains. A colleague of mine has a one-word response for those parents: “FERPA!!!”


  8. Well, if I felt badly enough from eating drugged brownies that I ended up in the hospital, and my parents were in-state, I’d call my parents, too. That seems pretty different from calling up your child’s prof to complain about a grade. 2/3 of CU students are in-state.


  9. New Kid: yes, I’d call my parents even now if I were hospitalized. But the story highlights the agency of the parents taking their children to the hospital. That’s what I was wondering about.

    Today’s college students have a lot to recommend them: they’re optimistic, generous, and very open to new ideas. But overall, they are not terribly independent of their parents.

    I wonder if these characteristics are inversely related? That is, I wonder if the extent to which one is open, generous, and optimistic is a function of NOT being a completely independent actor in the world. I was more independent, but probably a bit more cynical and a lot less open-minded when I was a college student.

    I guess what I’m saying is that as frustrating as it may be to deal with helicopter parents, I recognize that there may be some advantages that arise from this kind of family strategy.


  10. I have had graduate seminars in which a different person brought food every week, either purchased or home-baked as they wished. Once it was during Passover and I volunteered that week, and made brownies from a kosher-for-Passover mix. They were really terrible, with a really sandy texture. It never occurred to me till just now that some of the students might have thought there was a Secret Ingredient!

    “Don’t eat anything a student has baked” somehow never occurred to me as a general rule. My standard advice to students who want to thank a professor (for writing recommendations, for example), is: do not purchase a gift (especially not a gift card!); a handwritten note of appreciation is the most meaningful gift, but if you feel like you want to do more, homemade baked goods are always welcome. Do I need to revise that?


  11. In upper level courses, I have students turn in their final papers and do a discussion during the scheduled final exam. I bring food to that — sometimes purchased, sometimes baked, depending on my mood. Can’t do alcohol, of course, but I do juice/cider etc.

    I must say, the thought of being unkowingly stoned is kind of scary, and it sounds as if the students who did it may not have been, what shall we say, the most thoughtful?


  12. My classes this semester were 12-3 and 5-8 and you had better bet there was food every time, assigned on a rotating basis. My turn, we had was roast chicken, potato salad, baked beans, and cole slaw.


  13. Wow–that’s quite a feast! (I’m lucky if I prepare well for my classes–can’t imagine having to cater them as well, but I suppose it’s only fair if the students are cooking too.)

    Ruth: I wouldn’t say never eat something a student has baked. I only said never ASK them to bring food to class. (A little gift is one thing–a compulsory assignment is another.)


  14. When I was in library school a general email went out (I think from one of the student organizations?) asking us to volunteer to bake for Faculty Appreciation Week, to “show our appreciation of our professors.” (We were also supposed to write notes expressing said appreciation). Since this was *during* the semester, it seemed creepy and grade-grubby to me, and when I was teaching, I would have been extremely, extremely, extremely uncomfortable with receiving homebaked goods during the semester. (Only exception: an upperclass seminar I taught pitched in and bought me a cake when I defended my dissertation).

    Given the extremely unbalanced ratio of female to male students, I also thought the gender dynamic… um… needed interrogation. I wondered if it were a universitywide tradition or something, and asked a professor I happened to know in a more academic department, who confirmed that no, sounded like it was limited to the library school. I just ignored the whole thing.

    I also had a (female) professor in the same program require us to sign up to bring food every week. She did this by narrating “Stone Soup” at the beginning of class. The part of class where we ate was called “Stone Soup.” It was an evening class and the professor seemed to feel that we wouldn’t eat otherwise.


  15. Oh, the story I could tell here of an English prof (who had given up weed because it made her feel all wiggy and panicky) unwittingly devouring a cookie laced with hashish a couple of hours before she had a graduate seminar to teach. Whoooeeeeee, cowpokes, talk about an “all over body” (and deep inside brain) kind of stoned feeling! Said English prof was convinced s/he was having a psychotic break! And did I mention that she had A GRADUATE SEMINAR TO TEACH?

    Like I said, kids, the story I could tell — if I could only tell it without incriminating . . . someone. The moral of the untold story is do not under any circumstances give pot to the unsuspecting. Bad things will happen.

    Though, to be honest, I’m told it was one of the best classes our poor failed hippie English prof ever taught.

    Also, she — oh, wait, I mean — I will be baking cookies for my current class’s final next Monday. The strongest substance they’ll contain is almond extract.


  16. The only time I ever felt like I was overdosing on weed was from eating brownies. I think we fucked uppe the recipe and made them like ten times too fucken strong. I ate one motherfucken brownie, and an hour later I felt like I was blacking out and hallucinating at the same time. I was walking with my girlfriend down the street, and I had to stop and sitte on a stoop for about an hour before I could continue.


  17. I think this is part of why Hick’ said it’s still federal territory and it’s still illegal. We might have joked back in the day about an “Alice B.” attack on the command-and-control structure of a noisome class or two, but I think we would have begrudged the product, the inventory, the *stuff* it would have taken to bring it off. This at least reminds me that I have a sort of ceremonial exam-equivalent session with a graduate class tomorrow and they asked to bring food and I said I would bring drink. I used to do this a bit, usually wheeling in something store-bought. But if I *baked* for them, I think we’d be on lockdown in short order, total reverse-911.

    Now that I’m on the other side of the thin blue line, though, the image of a prof hitting the rug somewhere between the workstation and the whiteboard brings a kind of involuntary or maybe a perverse smile, but it’s still not a good idea. More cake blogging, please…


  18. Are we supposed to bake with legal drugs from now on? Baking is fun. Sharing food with students makes everyone happier, although allergies have to be considered. Grant money may enable lavish restaurant bills covering students and the grantee.

    Or, are we on a crusade to make some drugs as important as an apple a day? Me lost.


  19. Pingback: Random Bullets of AAARGH NO TIME!!!! « Reassigned Time 2.0

  20. I should have said, I’d have called my parents to take me to the hospital (if they were around). But that’s based on a couple of presumptions on my part (first: that the students in question are ~ 18-21 – given the age of the offenders – so still adjusting to adult life; second: that the students were like me at that age, and completely unwise to the ways of hospitals – I wouldn’t have even known where to go at that point; but again – presumptions). Also, strictly speaking, only one set of parents is described as taking their child to the hospital; the other parent just called campus police to tell them.

    But yes, I think there may be a connection between the openness/generosity/optimism, and the relationship with parents. I also wonder if independence can be quite the same now as when we were in college, given how social media allows for connections that didn’t exist at that time. (I mean, I know I had a phone – in my dorm room, so using it required being *in* my dorm room; plus there was a widespread perception that long-distance phone calls were *expensive*. Unlimited long-distance minutes that go with you anywhere are rather different.) That said, I suppose the million-dollar question is whether the social media fostered the connections or the connections fostered the social media…


  21. I don’t bake for my family. Why would I bake for my students? I’m also all about the boundaries, and probably more paranoid than I should be about the gender implications of female profs providing food for students.

    I have to admit I’m torn on the penalties here. It was obviously an extremely bone headed thing to do. Those students were obviously *not* thinking. That said, jail time seems really extreme. I guess they really will be learning their lesson the hard way. And surely CU has to expel them if they are convicted of a felony, no?


  22. I bake for my advisees a couple of times a year (usually the first and last advising sessions of the year, and maybe the day before Christmas break. And it’s always “super yummy good stuff” – a concoction of butter, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and chocolate and toffee chips.). Working in a K-12, there is pretty much a bake sale a day. The prospect of not eating all that would be sad. And now the science department has table day (the periodic table, often presented as cupcakes) and math has pi day. And now I’m hungry.


  23. Historiann! Don’t compost those apples unless they’ve really gone over to the dark side…

    My favorite Tarte Tatin recipe is still from the Joy of Cooking. A stick of butter, a cup of sugar as many apples as you can layer down in a spiral in your 10″ or 12″ cast iron skillet. Caramelize them on both sides, cover with the pate brisse and bake. (mmm @ 375 I think?)

    Plus apple dutch baby… and apple sauce… and well after just doing the tarte I’m wiped out because my culinary ambition always outstrips available time and energy…

    I think that you are on to something. My students do seem more optimistic and more connected to their parents than I was as an undergrad. My top explanations:

    cell phones with cheap long distance (as mentioned by others above)
    no cold war or threat of imminent nuclear annihilation


  24. Thanks for the recipes, Matt–I’ll see what the apples look like & give them a try. I have a Joy of Cooking (1964 edition, I believe) so your recipe may be in there.

    Do you really think we were disconnected from our parents b/c of the Cold War, or are you joking? I don’t think that was it, at least not in my case. I think it has more to do with expectations of parenting and parental responsibility. Parents (and grandparents) are expected to do so much more for their children that I’m sure it’s hard to know when and where to stop.

    My mother was commenting on a recent visit about how my grandparents never, ever went to a band concert or a sports event that my brother or I were in–and yet they do that all of the time for their grandchildren. (I don’t think she was complaining–just commenting.) Plus she knows all kinds of people who either provide child care regularly or who are even raising their own grandchildren–something that just never happened 40 years ago, at least not among the people we knew.

    (We’ve had conversations on this blog about the rising expectations that grad students have of their grad advisors, when most of us were “raised by wolves” rather than nurtured and rigorously professionalized, back in the day. I think these trends are interrelated.)

    Anyhoo–as to ej’s concerns: bail was apparently set at $5,000 for the miscreants. I think they will likely have the book thrown at them, because of their poor judgment in being the first poisoners caught after the decriminalization vote, and on the very weekend before the Guv signed the proclamation. I don’t care that it was pot in the brownies–it was a poisoning, regardless, so I’m OK with the book-throwing if that’s what it comes to. (What would two young people who weren’t in college get for poisoning a crowd of people?)


  25. Maybe we should have a three day plien-aire festschrift conference for these “wolves” who we were raised by, at the old Woodstock site in Bethel, NY. With a ten thousand page “book” of collective tributary howls to the whole pack, downloadable to your favorite device.

    I once went to a Simon and Garfunkel concert in a circus tent with my mother, who was for all sorts of driver’s licensing and insurance clause reasons the emergency chauffeur of necessity, and then at the last minute–who would of thunk it?–the party-crashing, ticket-buying fellow audience member!! Talk about a “first death” experience; but I guess parentality was no picnic either, back in that day. That was all the helicoptering that we got, if I remember right.

    Good point about class, college, and differential justice!


  26. Ooooh! I am fascinated by this insight about graduate students’ relationships to their advisors. I was incredibly independent as a grad. student, but I always appreciated the fact that my advisor was there when I really needed help. I considered that *part* of my professionalization: learning not to panic, but to solve problems on my own before turning to her. But my experience with some (not all) grad. students now has been that many need a lot more hand-holding than was the case with my cohort, back in the day.


  27. I smoked plenty back in my 20s (grad school in California 🙂 Then recently I ate one bite of a pot brownie, and almost died: paramedics, ER, the whole business. What had changed was that I was taking a particular medication which in rare cases has been known to interact lethally with THC. Do be careful, all!


  28. Historiann,

    I was thinking of the cold war in terms of the optimism of the current undergrads in comparison with the insouciance of gen-X. After two generations of duck and cover drills, fear and vigilance may have metastasized into cynicism and indifference in gen X. I think the current crop of students are justifiably optimistic in that the US faces no existential threats other than its own negligence.

    I think that you are right, there are a lot higher expectations on parents these days. Plus there is this whole weird subculture where the parent is also supposed to be a friend and confidant. I find that creepy. I remember talking to my parents about a lot of things, but not everything!

    And you have the righteous version of the Joy! …the one with the cocktail recipes and instructions for skinning a squirrel. I have the lame 1990s edition that has all the healthy living low fat bs in it.


  29. Heh. Yes, this Joy does include the squirrel recipies. I’m sorry I was so dense about your cold war point, Matt. Now I see what you were getting at.

    Knitting Clio: it’s not a problem if that’s your style! (And, of course, you refrain from poisoning people. . .)


  30. During Junior Tutorial, our adviser served us tea and scones — then again, she believed in civilized living, and had a side-gig as an interior decorator. Earl Grey tea, raspberry scones and clotted cream… memories….


  31. Re: your final point in the story. Report from the field: no, they (or at least mine) do not want to get away from parents. If they suffered the discomfort of going away, they often move back after graduation. It’s at least a 30-year at home commitment now.


  32. Well, I got through a final session with the grad. students today in which they brought the food and I brought the pretend-wine. I gnawed my way through an entire cupcake while narrating the story about the prof. in Boulder who kept going “in-and-out of consciousness” after having the brownie, which amused them no end. Everyone left the room under hir own ambulatory power, so I guess all’s well that ends well. They did wince a little when I mentioned that Officer Huff was predicting some serious slammer-time for the orchestrators of this incendiary plot. I know the U. doesn’t want to identify the personnel involved, and rightly so, but this *was* a history class, right? You can’t help but wondering which one.


  33. Pingback: Cake Week, Tuesday edition: pull up a chair for coffee and War Cake | Historiann

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