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Is Reed College a Crack House?

End-of-school year parties are pretty much a right of passage at colleges all around the country. Some of them even become part of the lure at the schools they take place at: Slope Day at Cornell, Fox Field at the University of Virginia, and Renn Fayre at Portland's Reed College. Whereas the former two celebrations are known primarily for binge drinking, Renn Fayre's reputation is tied more to performance art and hard drugs that make it possible.

In the wake of the second heroin-related death of a Reed student in two years this past March, a U.S. attorney trained his sights on the well-regarded Portland liberal arts college. He claims he can prosecute the school's administration under a tough federal law designed to turn up the heat of those who run crack houses.

C'mon, there's no way a rigorous college, like Reed, could be mistaken for a crack house. Is there?

From an online-only Newsweek story about the crackdown on Renn Fayre (the 2010 edition of which will include plainclothes police officers intermingling among the revelers):
[Reed President Colin] Diver looked up the statute after [U.S. Attorney Dwight] Holton referred to it in their meeting, he said, assuming it specifically applied to crack houses and that it couldn't be used against him. "I have a pretty good sense of what a crack house is," he said, "not from any personal experience, mind you." What Diver was "shocked" to read is that the statute subjects any person who is the proprietor of a place where drug use is knowingly going on to criminal and civil penalties, and he also learned of efforts in Congress to extend the punishments to the hosts of raves (parties, typically at dance clubs or warehouses that feature techno music and drug use). Diver concluded: "These guys [at the U.S. Attorney's office] are obviously thinking the language could apply to us."

So, if Reed's administration knowingly looks the other way while drug use occurs on its campus, it's technically a "crack house?" That's definitely something the school is going to want to leave out of its prospective students' brochure.

Photo (cc) via Flickr user sarako.

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