Weed. Grass. Bud. Pot. Cannabis. Herb. It is a thing of many names, something around which an entire culture—perhaps, even, an entire mythology—has grown up. And whether you like it or not, it seems here to stay. Indeed, marijuana, along with abortion, same-sex marriage, immigration, and others, has become one of the most controversial and important issues of our time. For many, talking about marijuana brings back memories of their “party days” (or, more likely, their hippy ones); even if they now oppose legalization you can usually see that little smile on their faces, that little twinkle of nostalgia only weed seems to bring about. For others, it is an utterly serious problem, a threat to the productivity, morality, and goodness of our country and a harbinger of a more delinquent age to come. And, of course, for many the issue is of no particular interest at all (at least, so they claim), while for others it is deeply personal and drastically pertinent to their everyday lives.
So weed is important. In the course of planning this issue, I’ve gotten the question over and over, from people on both sides of the debate, people who smoke and those who don’t: Why a weed issue? Aren’t there better uses of your time? What’s the deal? My answer is quite simple: marijuana is important, and especially given its relevance to many of us college students (first-time voters; maybe-first-time smokers; young, thinking people of the world…) it is time we all started talking about it.
Far too often, we shy away from anything that makes us uncomfortable, or talk about complex problems only with those we agree with. Indeed, the recent Mustangs for Life anti-abortion demonstration, and the impending counter-responses, are in many ways indicative of the overly-aggressive, polarizing tone that can commandeer even the most well-meant expression of thought and turn it to the dark side of insularity, self-righteousness, offense, and refusal to engage in legitimate dialogue. That’s the sort of thing we at Hilltopics try to avoid, and that’s why we’re doing a weed issue. To get the dialogue into the open air and let it be seen, to encourage further discussion beyond our all-too-limited pages.
We also hope that, like everything we do, this will be fun. It was certainly fun for us to create, and we hope that you enjoy it as much as we did. So, from all of us, have a very happy 420, however you choose to celebrate it (or not). We hope that this edition of Hilltopics makes the day a little bit better.
This will also, alas, be our last issue of the school year. I have to give my immense thanks to Camille Aucoin, copy editor and designer extraordinaire, without whom Hilltopics would have been dead long, long ago. Abby Hawthorne has been amazing as a copy editor and source of moral support; Destiny Rose Murphy revived our formerly pitiful social media presence; Arya McCarthy has worked with astounding diligence as resident interviewer and as our website designer and builder; Kara Hallam was a brilliant member of the online crew. My thanks to you all.
I would be remiss without mentioning Daniel Muehring and Terisha Kolencherry, who have spent countless hours with me talking about ways to make Hilltopics better and pushing me to be better, as an editor and a person. They are wonderful colleagues and even better friends. To Dr. Doyle and Ms. Spaniolo, thanks for your unwavering support of this project and for giving me a chance at the reins. You believed in my vision and helped us achieve it with enthusiasm, care, and passion; for that you have my eternal gratitude. And, of course, my biggest thanks of all goes to the staff, for putting up with me and for making possible the best publication on SMU’s campus. Thanks for joining the ride, y’all.
And to you, reader, I would say this: back in September, we set out on a mission to change things. To make things better, not just Hilltopics but ourselves, our campus, and our world. We wanted, more than anything, to stir things up, to come together and show everyone that SMU is, despite what some might say, an intellectually and artistically vibrant place…to prove, in short, that SMU has a soul. We think we’ve done that, and we’re excited about continuing to do so in the future—there’s still room to grow, to sharpen our critical gaze and more fully engage with the SMU community. But we think we’ve come a long way, and we hope you’ve enjoyed the process as much as we have.
We’ve also learned, I think, the challenge in making new things happen, in realizing and sustaining an ambitious vision, a perhaps overly naive hope. For in many ways, we were (as they say of young military recruits, or t-ball tykes, or young writers) green when this thing started. We were wild, foolish, sometimes even absurd in our desires. And, over the course of the year, much of that has changed, especially as we’ve been forced to face the realities of publication, the difficulty in coordinating a project like this. So yes, we’re more experienced, more capable, a touch more realistic.
But I want to say this: we’re still green, and green is good. That is what Hilltopics has been about from its start over a decade ago, and that is how it remains. It is a thirst for more than you know you can have, a longing for change sooner than you know is possible, a vision for a time and place no one has yet dared to dream of. We remain committed to such green visions, without regard for the discouragement and disparagement we might receive from the cautious, the conservative, the mild. We push on, and we hope you will join us—onward, always.