The Quest | The Free Press of Reed College

President Kroger’s Statement

As you know, I made the decision to cancel two Paideia classes. One involved the smoking of unregulated depressants, and the other was on how to trip on hallucinogens. The first class raised significant health and safety concerns; the second both health and legal issues. The college staff also asked a student to modify a class on fermentation, which promised students, including underage students, instruction on how to make all the “booze … they could ever desire.” The student was asked to teach his class without the alcohol component, again for health and safety issues.

Alcohol and drugs cause significant and sometimes lethal harm to students at colleges and universities across the country. As you know, I have already seen several of our students go to the hospital because of dangerous misuse of both alcohol and drugs.

As president, I take seriously my responsibility for the health and safety of our community members. I am sorry about the lack of process that preceded these cancellations. Normally, I would wish to have a larger community dialogue, with full community participation, before taking any such steps. Unfortunately, I learned about these classes right before Paideia began and felt I could not responsibly let them go forward without real risk of harm to community members.

In the coming weeks, I will schedule a community forum, in which students may share their concerns about this decision. I will gladly listen as well as explain my own views.

– John R. Kroger, President

55 Responses to “President Kroger’s Statement”
  1. Bear Wilner-Nugent says:

    Are alumni welcome? If so, I’ll come if I’m in town and be an active participant if I’m allowed to be. But this doesn’t replace the debate to which I have challenged you.

    If alumni are not welcome, we have a bigger problem.

    • Ellen Murphy says:

      If John Kroger is truly concerned for the ” health and safety of our community members” then he would allow them to be educated on how to conduct these activities in the safest possible manner, which are going to happen whether or not there is a Paideia class on it. Safety comes from knowledge, and thinking that removing the exposure to how to go about using drugs or alcohol in a responsible way is going to somehow reduce the usage, is naive.

      As for the fermentation class: wouldn’t one rather students were drinking home brew beer than the multitude of other more harmful beverages?

      I am afraid John may have lost the trust and respect of the student body a little bit with this one. I for one am curious to see if he manages to hold the Reed spirit in esteem, or if he will put the board of trustees desires before that of the student population.

    • '09 alum says:

      Excuse me, “Bear,” but why do you think Kroger has any obligation to debate you?

      • Ruthanne Roussel '86 says:

        I can’t speak for Bear, but I can tell you that “Bear” is the name he goes by in real life and was known as at Reed (as far as I know, it’s his birth name). I, for one, welcome our new Reed president and would love to see him accept Bear’s invitation (challenge, or whatever you like to call it) to a debate on this topic. It would be at least as interesting as this comment thread.

      • KC Lewis says:

        I wouldn’t say Kroeger has an “obligation” to debate anyone, but it’s in his best interests to maintain good relations with the student and alumni communities, and so it would likely be a good idea for him to find some way to reach out and make Reedies feel like he values their opinions and feels responsible to justify his actions rationally to the community. This may or may not be the best way for him to do it, but he needs to find some way to do it, because his relationship with both communities has been damaged.

      • Jennifer Turner, '12 says:

        “’09 alum”

        • Ruthanne Roussel '86 says:

          Broadly speaking, it seems there are two lines of argument in this thread:

          1) To what extent, if any, does the College have the right/responsibility to act in loco parentis, (a) in general and (b) on the specific occasion of approving or rejecting Paideia classes? AFAIK the first discussions of (a) date back to the 1950′s, if not before.

          2) Were the classes in question actually threatening to student health? (Note that this becomes less important to the extent that the College is deemed less responsible for acting in loco parentis.)

      • V. '05 says:

        Obligation? If the new President thinks his vision of what’s best for Reed is one the Reed community can support, he would be embrace the opportunity to advance it in a public venue. What’s happening is the gradually accelerating repositioning of Reed’s identity closer to the staid, empty world of its peer institutions. What you have here is a kind of institutional embarrassment; a certain subset (and minority) of Reed administrators (and faculty and other staff and students) are embarrassed by who we are and have long been, a place that is radically different from other places, among them that it is a place of relative freedom. Traditionally that freedom was tempered by a communal recognition of our obligations upon each other and our shared understanding that when unable to agree on what is honorable, we will submit to the binding decision of a judicial process designed to formally determine what is honorable and not. That’s why those of us who continue to believe that the college should say true to its tradition of doing what’s right rather than what’s easy find this so frustrating; we feel as though not only is Reed abandoning its identity, but its abandoning the vast majority of its alumni community in the process.

        If the administration were concerned about what is honorable it should have raised the issue through the judicial process. But what is honorable is the furthest consideration from the administration, who instead of applying the honor principle apply the CYA principle.

        The appropriate arbiter of what is honorable and not is the judicial board, not the would-be dictator in Eliot Hall.

  2. Michael Zhao says:

    Yes because everyone knows that once you know how to homebrew, you can just magically conjure booze out of thin air with little to no effort required. It’s not like it takes hours of preparation followed by weeks, if not months of fermentation. Nor does it teach students about the importance of delayed gratification or the value and cultural significance of responsible alcohol creation and consumption. Good on him for stopping such a subversive and destructive class from being taught.

  3. Bear Wilner-Nugent '95 says:

    Also, it is tremendously anti-intellectual to lump together “alcohol and [all] drugs.” What is the significant or lethal harm caused by marijuana to Reedies? By mushrooms? By LSD? Not everything equals heroin. It is horrible that Reed students have died of heroin overdoses in recent years. It is appalling that Reed’s response has been humiliating, intrusive student residence searches for marijuana. Reed’s busting pot smokers and dealers to make up for the junkies and heroin pushers it can’t catch is like the person who looks for their car keys across the street from where they lost them because that’s where the streetlight is. And Kroger’s comments about “alcohol and drugs” bespeak his prosecutorial mindset, where nuance is foregone in devotion to the party line. (For more on this, see my thesis!)

    • V. '05 says:

      Thank you for speaking for the multitude of alumni who appreciated Reed’s comparative decency in a world of indecency.

  4. Thomas Sherlock Craig '08 says:

    Great Notes Bear! I believe we can take as given that alumni are invited. He has labeled this a “community forum”, which we all know by Reed institution means all alumni, as well as parents of students and alumni, staff, and, frankly, all interested parties.

    John, I appreciate you responding to the community, however, this statement does not alleviate my concerns about your actions, nor indicate to me that you understand the reasons why those actions were so inappropriate.

    Please respond affirmatively to Bear’s honorable request for a debate.

  5. Shane says:

    Selling pretzels in the bookstore poses a ‘real risk of harm’, John. How can we change ‘the coming weeks’ into ‘the coming days’? Waiting a few weeks to face the music is unacceptable.

  6. William Nicholson '78 says:

    President Kroger doesn’t want a debate. He wants student concerns that he can “listen” to, following which he will “explain” his views. This is not the language of debate among mutually respectful community members. This is the language of a principal explaining the facts of life to grade schoolers. I believe that he sincerely wishes nothing but the best for Reed students. The Reed way, however, is not to dictate what is best for students. Nor is it to assume that granting them the freedom of choice that lies at the heart of Reed’s unique nature will result in their making bad choices.

  7. Charlie Peirson '06 says:

    I’m all in favor of nice big chats among colleagues and equals, but I’m still waiting to be impressed, Mr. Kroger.

  8. Jordan Horowitz says:

    President Kroger,

    I’ve always been skeptical of the hagiographies published about you in this newspaper and elsewhere. Now I know why.

    You make me utterly ashamed to attend this school.

    I would urge the leaders of these censored Paideia classes to write print versions of what would have been taught in their classes and publish them in The Quest. The only way to show that we aren’t caving to censorship is to actually get the material out there.

    On another note, can you explain why the class on legal, smokeable herbs presented health risks to our campus? Do you have evidence from peer-reviewed journals about the dangers of herbs like valerian and damiana? Or did you just expect us to accept your claim? I know you’re new here, but you didn’t really expect Reedies to just let things like that slide by, did you?

    Your opposition to the class on hallucinogens mirrors the conservative Christian position on sex education. We know that teenagers are going to have sex, we know that Reedies are going to do hallucinogens, so wouldn’t we want everyone to be as safe as possible while engaging in those activities? I think NOT teaching these sorts of classes presents a health risk to our campus.

    If the comments section on this statement and the original article can be taken as a representative sample, you’ve lost the respect of about 99% of the student body and alumni. So, good luck with that damage control.

  9. Eve says:

    I concur with Bear’s comments. I will also quote another alumni on the Reed Facebook page, who wrote ” Prez doesn’t want a debate. He wants student concerns that he can “listen” to, following which he will “explain” his views. This is not the language of debate among mutually respectful community members. This is the language of a principal explaining the facts of life to grade schoolers.”

    Harsh, perhaps. But accurate. I find the way you are treating the students to be condescending and in violation of the core principles of Reed, which regards everyone as being on equal intellectual standing. I’m glad I went to Reed when I did, and I feel sorry for the current students because I fear Reed is in danger of becoming just another overpriced liberal arts college, as opposed to what it was for me in the past, and what it can still be – if you don’t stand in the way – a truly unique intellectual and experimental environment for curious students to discover who they are and what they believe.

  10. An alumn. says:


  11. KC Lewis says:

    If as drastic a step as this were going to be taken, it should not have been taken without first consulting the community. Surely no imminent threat was posed by letting these classes go forward, and then discussing their value/potential harmfulness to the community in preparation for next year’s Paideia?

  12. Matt lehat 08 says:

    Because it’s clearly it’s safer to have students tripping on hallucinogens with no guidance? If students are going to experiment with hallucinogens (and since the grow all over in Oregon many students will) how is it not healthier and safer for those students to be given advice and guidance beforehand??? As for the brewing again students can order supplies online with no Id check but if they do not know how to create a sanitary controlled environment there is a serious possibility of health and safety issues. the knowledge provided in these classes is explicitly to reduce health and safety concerns isn’t it?

  13. Jennifer Turner, '12 says:

    Bear, if I could like comments, I would like both of yours.

    To Kroger, are you aware that just a few years ago Reed had a Tobacconist funded by Student Body Funds, for the edification and distribution of all things tobacco? Are students no longer to make their own decisions regarding even legal substances? Would a cake-baking class be shut down because obesity is a national epidemic? Should curfews be imposed to ensure students get enough sleep? It’s one thing to be of the opinion that tobacco use, being unhealthy, should be avoided; it is another matter to go on to impose restrictions based on that belief on well-informed adults capable of making their own decisions. Nanny state much? You are not a surrogate parent. Students of Reed are not attending a boarding high school. They are adults and their voices and decisions on campus should be their own.

    As for the alcohol and drug portion, I’ll just refer to what Bear already said, and add that change in behavior, if needed at all, is something that comes from education, not repression. If you think that alcohol and drug consumption are dangerous or should be reduced, the proper way is to provide the student body with information regarding these matters (information that I believe they already have in spades thanks to an historically open mind and flow of facts about drugs and alcohol) and let them make their own decisions, not suppress the sharing of information that is contrary to your opinions about drug and alcohol consumption.

    I would also very much support a debate between Kroger and Bear. I think that would be immensely illuminating to a number of people and Bear, I think, would be the best representation and vocalist of all those opinions and talking points the vast majority of the student body has regarding the issue.

  14. Doug McCarthy '93 says:

    President James L. Powell redux

  15. Reductive statements about the cancelled classes are equally odious whether they indicate ignorance or cynicism.

    President Kroger’s press release gives no new information. It restates previously-reported facts in self-serving, reductive, and passive-voiced rhetoric. “As you know . . . ” is used as an introduction to statements of opinion and truism. The word “normal” is used to imply a standard procedure without ever specifying the details of that procedure or promising that procedure will be followed.

    This empty assertion of different reality is a cliche of how government attorneys use the natural respect accorded their position to get ahead of mainstream news cycles. That Kroger would issue such an empty, self-serving communiqué is equally odious whether its origin is cynicism (the underlying debates don’t matter), cowardice (Kroger doesn’t intend to further debates he will lose), or habit (his whole life he’s used information to advance his position; Mr. Kroger’s new professional responsibilities do not yet include using chance events to educate).

    The ski cabin log books also contain idiosyncratic unreliable accounts written by underage students about how to use drugs and alcohol. Will they next be censored?

  16. Landon says:

    The Willamette Week is researching a story about this event. Given how the paper has covered Reed in the past, we should do our best not to give them any ammunition. Please comment in a manner that will reflect well upon the college and the student body (which is not at all to say stop talking about it, just be mindful that we’re having this debate in public). I say this as someone who was going to teach one of the cancelled classes, and as a proud Reedie.

  17. Russell Mayhew '10 says:

    To reiterate from the other article:
    “Publications, exhibitions, public lectures, and public performances under the sponsorship of the college or of recognized organizations within the Reed Community shall not be subject to institutional censorship.”

    Community constitution Article VI, Section 1:

    Student organization search at

    Anybody want to argue whether the President’s decision constitutes “institutional censorship” or not?

    • Charlie Peirson '06 says:

      Mayhew: swish.
      I can’t wait to hear Kroger argue that a) this wasn’t a violation of Art. VI, Sec. 1, or b) that the Community Constitution doesn’t apply here, or to him.

      • Xander says:

        For anyone who missed the open forum on this:
        Kroger’s comments with regard to Art. VI, Sec. 1 is largely that it doesn’t apply to the matter at hand. He views Paideia as part of the Reed curriculum and therefore not under the specific activities listed in the community constitution. He traces his argument to what he views as the legal relationship between the College and Paideia, drawing directly from the faulty meeting minutes from the past few decades–which he reads as entirely institutionally endorsed curriculum. Essentially, President Kroger says he does not see curriculum as falling under the purview of Art VI, Sec 1.

        • Tevon '12 says:

          I understand that he argued this point, but I am unsure of how he supported it. Even if he feels that he can claim Paideia is an “institutionally endorsed curriculum,” which seems hazy at best, then in order to censor it would require CAPP (the faculty committee in charge of curriculum).

          Since CAPP has never approved Paideia classes, and they are required to approve all classes in the Reed curriculum, (“No course shall be offered until it has been approved by [the Division and then CAPP] Faculty Code IV B) then it would seem that there has always been a tacit acknowledgement by the faculty that Paideia exists outside of the Reed curriculum.

    • dylan clark says:

      Great quote Russell, I can’t believe Kroger/student activities would choose to start this battle over the content of Paideia classes. It seems pretty stupid, and I hope the response on campus is as strong as it is online. The Reed community needs to establish its boundaries with Kroger before it is too late. It is egregious to attempt to censor the content of a harmless* class on fermentation.

      That said, I wonder how dire the class situation was for the Paideia organizers to originally approve “Adroit Anticipation of Awesome Altered Adventures 201″ and “Put that in your Pipe and Smoke it”. The student body should demonstrate the ability to make classier decisions if it is to continue to be autonomous. I am kind of embarrassed and bummed that Kroger/student activities is calling so much attention to those classes.

      PS-”Harmless” because I dont think I knew any Reedies < 21 who both wanted to brew beer AND were capable of keeping the sanitary conditions required for making potable alcohol.

  18. Constance Bailey says:

    While I can understand safety and legal issues being legit arguments for the first two paideia classes incidents, I don’t really see how homebrewing in front of minors is legally problematic. I mean, it won’t be alcohol for a few weeks, and it’s not illegal to show underage people how to brew beer. That just seems silly to me.

  19. Doug Knowles '73 says:

    How to Make Cheap Wine
    Edited by Sondra C, Jack Herrick, Krystle, Harold R and 51 others

    Re-posted here by a 70′s bio student radical (or so President Kroger would label me) in honor of Jack Dudman.
    Doug Knowles ’73

    Article provided by wikiHow (, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual.
    Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on “How to Make Cheap Wine.” (
    Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License

    This basic wine is certainly not for connoisseurs, but it’s a fun, cheap, easy project with educational value. This article gives step-by-step instructions on how to make cheap wine; once this procedure is understood, you can also use the shortcut method that follows.


    The following quantities will make a gallon of wine:
    2 cans of juice concentrate at room temperature; you can use any type of concentrate (grape, strawberry, etc.) as long as it doesn’t contain any preservatives, which will inhibit fermentation; you might also want to avoid artificial coloring and flavoring since higher quality ingredients will produce tastier results
    2 cups of sugar
    1 packet of champagne yeast (more will not increase alcohol content but will impart a bad “yeasty” flavor); if you use bread yeast, it will taste like dirty socks, so be sure you use only champagne yeast
    1 gallon of water; reverse-osmosis water, which can be purchased at the store in a gallon jug, is preferable but unnecessary

    1 Sterilizing
    Carefully sterilize your containers and utensils. Sanitizing everything will help keep unwanted bacteria from setting up camp as your wine ferments.

    The easy way to sanitize everything at once is to use your dishwasher at the high heat setting, with appropriate detergent. Some dishwashers are designed especially to sanitize your dishes at 183 degrees F; this will clean the equipment and make the task really easy. After the machine finishes the dry cycle, you will be ready to start making the wine.

    If you do not have an automatic dishwasher, wash with detergent, then bleach the funnel, glass jug, and anything else you may use. Air dry.

    If you’re using a plastic water jug you just bought at the store, you won’t need to sanitize it.

    Keep your jug covered or closed between uses to limit the amount of time that the container is exposed to possible contamination.

    2 Boil the water
    Boil the water. Using your thermometer, bring it to 144 degrees F and keep it there for 22 minutes.

    3 Add juice
    Add the room-temperature juice concentrate to the clean, dry jug. Use the funnel if needed.

    4 Add sugar
    While the water is hot, dissolve the sugar into it. Stir while pouring.

    5 Activate the yeast
    Activate the yeast. If available, follow the directions on the packet; otherwise, activate the yeast by dissolving 1 teaspoon of sugar to 1/4 cup of lukewarm water in a separate bowl, adding the yeast, and letting it sit for 10 minutes (or until it becomes very frothy).

    6 Mix
    Let the boiled water cool before pouring it into the gallon jug containing juice concentrate. To gauge the temperature, wait until it stops steaming and the pot barely radiates heat. When the sides of the pot are cool enough to touch, it should be ready. (Keeping the lid on during this time will help prevent contamination.) Pouring very hot water into a cool glass container might shatter it, particularly if the glass is thick. (Contrary to what you might expect, thick glass is actually less safe because it heats unevenly, causing internal stresses.)

    Pouring very hot water into your plastic jug could melt it or cause particulates to leech into the water.

    7 Add the dissolved sugar-water to the jug.
    Stir well with a sterile utensil or by capping the jug and shaking it.

    8 Add the yeast
    Add the yeast. Again, stir well with a sterile utensil or by capping the jug and shaking it.

    9 Balloon method
    Remove the cap from the bottle and replace with a fermentation-friendly capping system. Since the fermentation produces CO2, the jug must be capped in a way that allows CO2 to escape.

    Option 1 (Preferred): Place the airlock in the mouth of the jug. The airlock not only keeps the jug capped in a way that allows CO2 to escape, but also allows you to monitor the rate of fermentation by watching the bubbles pass through.

    Option 2: Place a balloon over the mouth of the jug and secure it with a rubber band or tape. It is very important to poke a hole in the balloon with a needle; this will keep the pressure positive in the jug, preventing air from entering while allowing the release of CO2.

    Option 3: Use clay to seal a tube into the mouth of the jug, then place the other end of the tube in the bottom of a glass of water. As with the airlock, bubbles will be seen occasionally as the CO2 exits.

    10 Keep the jug at room temperature away from direct sunlight.
    If it doesn’t start to bubble after a few days, throw it away and try again, being careful to use more sanitary equipment. Otherwise, wait 10 to 14 days, when the mixture will suddenly go from cloudy to clear. Then transfer into another bottle or smaller bottles (leaving the sediment on the bottom of the first bottle) and enjoy!

    Shortcut Method

    Instead of using frozen concentrate, buy pasteurized grape juice with no additives, preservatives, or added sugar. Your enemy in the winemaking procedure is sulfur dioxide, so make sure the juice is natural. Pasteurization, which also kills wild molds and yeasts, is the desired alternative to sulfur dioxide.

    Buying it in a one-gallon jug will kill two birds with one stone, since the juice and jug are already sanitary.

    Add activated champagne yeast.

    Close with the capping system of your choice and ferment. Voila!


    When adding the yeast, the juice should not be too hot or it will kill the yeast and ruin your wine. The jug should feel just warm to the touch.
    The yeast will die around 10-20% alcohol concentration.
    As another alternate, buy a gallon jug of apple juice (no preservatives), pour yourself a glass (for head space), pour in 1 cup of regular cane sugar, and 1 pack of wine or ale yeast. Replace the cap just loose enough to allow the CO2 to escape. In 3 to 5 days, you have hard cider. Let it settle, then pour into an empty bottle, leaving the sediment at the bottom. Foolproof.
    If you do not have a large enough pot, it is perfectly acceptable to use two pots instead.
    Tip for adding the sugar: put the kettle on! Dissolve the sugar into 2 cups of hot water and when it’s cool enough, add it to your mixture.
    When purchasing your juice, pay attention to the ingredients list on the label for preservatives because these are intended to inhibit fermentation and spoilage.
    Not all of the water fits back into the gallon jug. Before boiling, dump out enough water to fit in jug.
    When done fermenting, strain as you pour into a wine bottle or glass, leaving the clumpy yeast in the jug. Make sure to wash and sterilize again.
    The quality of the wine produced depends on the quality of the ingredients. Try experimenting with higher quality juices and different types of yeast. (See Warnings.)
    If you are using balloons, keep the cap on (under the balloon) just enough to let CO2 out, this will further prevent air from getting in, and will further ensure the pressure in the jug is positive.


    Baking yeast (active dried yeast) does not leave its taste if your wine has gone through ultracentrifugation.
    Don’t assume the alcohol content is as low as your average glass of wine. Plan not to drive for a while after consuming! (However unless you use specialist yeast for alcohol production the yeast will die before the alcohol content reaches much more).
    Do NOT use “Brewer’s yeast” as sold in health food stores – this is dead yeast, and won’t do anything!
    Yeast consumes and consumes until there is no food left (in this case sugar), then it becomes dormant (or until the alcohol content is so high that the yeast cannot survive). By adding more sugar, you increase the brewing time and also raise the alcohol content. Theoretically, if you add a lot of sugar you could ensure it would be very sweet when finished, but it would also be very potent, and take a long time to finish; however, likely, the yeast would die from the high alcohol content before it can produce more alcohol.
    Use dry wine yeast, not the sparkling wine variety or baking yeast. When wine yeast is unavailable never use “rapid-raise” types.

    Things You’ll Need

    a 1-gallon water container; a glass jug with a narrow mouth (ex. an old apple juice jug) is preferable, but a plastic water jug from the store would be an inexpensive alternative
    a stirring utensil (optional)
    a thermometer
    a bleach
    a funnel
    a rubber band
    a bottle airlock (a.k.a. “fermentation trap”); this only costs about a dollar, but if you can’t get your hands on one, use one of the following combinations: a balloon, needle, and rubber band
    clay, a glass of water, and 2 feet of clear plastic tubing (available at any hardware store) narrow enough to fit through the mouth of the jug

    Related wikiHows

    How to Pour a Glass of Wine
    How to Separate Alcohol and Water
    How to Make Ridiculously Cheap Cool Aid Wine
    How to Reuse Screw Top Wine Bottles for Making Wine
    How to Become a Wine Connoisseur
    How to Open a Bottle of Wine
    How to Create the Perfect Sangria
    How to Taste Wine
    How to Host a Wine Tasting Party
    How to Choose a Good Winemaker.
    How to Store Wine
    How to Use a Wine Opener
    How to Use Wine Bottle Labels As Art
    How to Make a Michilada
    How to Make a Delicious Stress Killing Tea Blend
    How to Make Pipe Cleaner Wine/Drink Charms

    Sources and Citations Original source of this article. Shared with permission. (Later edited by WikiHow members) Discover the joy of making delicious wines & spirits from the comfort of your own home. Step-by-step instructions, over 90 recipes & tutorials – A complete blueprint for perfect wines & spirits.
    To brew appropriately, please visit Learn how to make wine

  20. Lucas W. Perkins, '01 says:

    This was exactly the kind of behavior I expected from Mr. Kroger when I first heard of his hiring and researched his background. I am extremely heartened by the responses I’m seeing, and really I have nothing to add that you all haven’t already said quite well. But I will say two things. First, you all do realize, both alumni and current students, that this has been a long time coming and that this man was hired exactly because the Board of Trustees wants to destroy Reed culture, right? Second, the Honor Principle now means exactly nothing to the administration, so why should it mean anything to anyone else?

    Oh, and one more thing… President Kroger, seriously, go fuck yourself. Print that in the Willy Week.

  21. To infringe on the students’ rights to freely gather and discuss topics of their choosing there must be clear and significant harm (from a moral if not a legal point of view). If not, then any potential harm, and it is always easy to invent one, can be used to restrict unwelcome behavior.

    This letter does not convince me that the harm posed by these classes was sufficient to warrant this response. The cost to an individual of freely choosing to use a potentially dangerous substance is his responsibility, and not (if the choice is free) the responsibility of those who provide it, certainly not of those who only disseminate information about it and discuss it. If the president reasons that the school has the authority to oversee courses conducted in its classrooms, or even in its dormitories, I would urge the student body to seek out other venues.

    Paideia ought to be, and from all I had ever been told, was, something that the students do spontaneously and of their own accord. That the students would do such things freely and spontaneously was part of Reed’s attraction in the first place and has justly made Reed famous. In response, it seems that the administration both wants to capitalize on the creativity of its students (a la Facebook) and also to exercise some measure of quality control so that Reed remains respectable in the eyes of its patrons. Drug use and anything pertaining to it, which for better or worse, used to define Reed, has now become too counter-culture for the administration.

    In response, I say that this isn’t the sort of thing the administration can package — if you want to celebrate Reed’s quirky intelligence, you’re going to have to stomach its vices — and the administration’s efforts to do so have become increasingly odious. Perhaps this year there will be no Paideia, no motorized couches, no Thesis Parade? And what will the glossy campus brochures boast of then?

  22. Freshman says:

    Most of my life I have been in the position where I am younger than everyone else around me /by age/. Since finding myself in this position, everyone I’ve met has found joy and humor in making fun of my age and treating me like I am a child. I came to Reed hoping for an environment in which I can develop, however I am once again finding myself in the position of being treated like a child – yet not by other students. Now, it is the person I’m am supposed to see as someone in a position of leadership and responsibility. Thank you, John Kroger, for reminding me once again that I cannot function as an individual without having my hand held and being dragged in whichever direction Kroger and the rest of the administrative board sees fit.

  23. SENIOR says:

    Kroger, censorship and secrecy breeds corruption and hatred. This is not the only thing you have tried to push under the rug of “safety” or “confidentiality.” You have, while trying to save face, been a catalyst for an immense amount of harm and misdirected punishment.

  24. Drew McCormick'82 says:

    Dear President Kroger, JD;
    For my information, can you tell me what is the relevant state or federal statute that makes teaching a class on a particular subject illegal as you state?

  25. Anon says:

    A thought just occurred to me: White Bird comes to Renn Fayre every year and gives a talk about how to use drugs responsibly. In fact, their whole medical philosophy is based on harm reduction, not prohibition. Are they going to be banned from campus this year? Kroger couldn’t allow them to come if he wanted to be consistent.

  26. Wonderful anagram noted during today’s alumni board meeting for “Reed President John Kroger” that pretty much sums up this statement: “Pretended error — he’s joking.” Credit to Bennett Barsk ’82

  27. VoxClamantis says:

    Isn’t there a big enough problem just with cigarette smoking on campus? Why promote smoking anything? These classes are silly. Paideia should be a time for independent study with or without faculty assistance.

    • says:

      It is students’ prerogative to choose whether or not to use any substance, legal or otherwise. Some Reed students are inevitably going use substances classified by a normative and disciplinary legal apparatus as prohibited, or age restricted, regardless of whether the administration will acknowledge this fact. It is critical that information which contributes to the safety and well-being of students partaking in such substances be allowed to be shared in community forums like Paideia. Kroger, it is against the established community standards of Reed for you to veto the free speech of students while attempting to squelch community discussion over the topic. I am saddened by your attempt to bar alums (who bear the legacy of a different era of Reed, however romanticized it may be) from sharing their experiences and knowledge. I would love to see Bear and others debate Kroger in a setting where he can be held accountable for his actions and not simply wave his presidential trump card on behalf of the trustees. I would also support the banned classes being taught in the coming weeks as a statement against censorship on campus.
      -Sam Smith

  28. Teetotaller Alumna says:

    Reducing heroin use by repressing pot use is like curing cancer by popping a zit.

  29. Jinyoung Park '11 says:

    How is censorship going to do anything about health and safety? I am an occasional drinker (I think it has been a good two weeks since my last drink and it’s Carnival Season) and I have never smoked (cigarettes or other substance) or done other drugs, but I disagree with the decision to cancel paideia classes without involving a community discussion if the reason was to keep students safe.

    You said one of the classes was on how to trip on hallucinogens. If people are going to use hallucinogens, they are going to do that regardless of whether this class exists or not, so maybe it’s better for them to be educated on how to do it safely so they can indeed be safe, which seems to be your biggest concern. Unless you are really worried about something else, in which case you really should be honest and say what it is.

    I have my own concerns about drug use at universities but I don’t think censorship at paideia is the way to go. In fact, it might induce the rebellious souls to partake in activities that might be harmful to their health even more. The kids that weren’t allowed to drink before coming to college were always the ones puking and passing out and repeating that all over again the next week.

    “Alcohol and drugs cause significant and sometimes lethal harm to students at colleges and universities across the country. As you know, I have already seen several of our students go to the hospital because of dangerous misuse of both alcohol and drugs.”

    So take a holistic approach and invest more in education. Perhaps you should have engaged the students who were responsible for the paideia classes in discussion about what concerns you about their classes and see how they can make their classes still safe. If both parties reached the conclusion that there was no way for them to be safe, then maybe come to a decision at that point.

    As for the class on brewing beer, don’t you know you live in Oregon, not Alabama? Just saying.

  30. Reedie '09 says:

    Guys, don’t we alums all have better things to do? I mean, seriously?

  31. BEER NATION Sub-Commandante Soto '01 says:

    Vague, jargon laden, business speak, with a nebulous “community forum” offer…lame! Kroger, the rumor is that you have the chops to put forward an argument, so put the argument forward. And please, make the main portion of the reasoning something other than a tired Utilitarian argument of some greater good. So, give the argument that justifies the decision, or quit wasting my time.

    Though, these comment sections rarely do any good, and are mostly ignored by those in positions of power, I’ll add just a couple of thoughts. In one area Kroger cites “legal issues.” Blah, blah, press release abuse of language, but let me say this. In the post-Citizens United, no banker gone to jail, “legalized” drone killing of Americans, gynormous football schools era, the claim that the Government will somehow get its act together and prosecute, or withhold funding, or impose any sanctions on Reed for these Paidea classes is vacuous.

    As for the “community forum,” I hope that it is not one of those scripted events using the power of the microphone (like Clinton and Albright) to explain to the attendees (and TV audience) that cancelling the classes (bombing Iraq) had to be done, because of some great evil (WMD’s).

    • Jennifer Turner, '12 says:

      I’ve been reluctant to bring in comparisons to US government tyranical efforts, but through this whole thing, while simultaneously reading the deplorable news about increasing infringes on our citizens and everything else in this country, I have been constantly wanting to make the parallel. Of course cancelling a couple classes doesn’t hold the merest flicker to drone strikes, but nevertheless I think in some distinct ways we are living in a Reed microcosm that is trying to recapitulate greater trends. We are trying to change our behavior in fear of the government? Who have we become?

  32. Mark Magee '87 says:

    Mr Kroger. All other arguments aside, by joining the Reed community, you have agreed to entertain several points of view besides your own, and be ready to go in the direction of the most plausible argument. This is not law enforcement anymore, a formula that can only lead to the lowest common denominator. Welcome to the grey zone where we can hold both parts of A and B at the same time, and where no solid ground exists.

  33. Francis Dieterle '12 says:

    What, if any, are the consequences of the president of the college violating the section of the community constitution that Russell quoted above (not to mention the operating principles of the college)? Is President Kroger going to have to take responsibility for his actions or is he just going to have to sit through a tedious and circular union/forum/town hall meeting/panel? Frankly, I’d like to see some accountability from the administration side when an incident such as this occurs.

    • Tevon '12 says:

      Since the President is only responsible to the Board of Trustees, there is no particular method for accountability. The only thing his actions do is [potentially] undermine his trust.

    • Jordan Horowitz says:


      At the forum, Kroger claimed that a Paideia class is not a publication, exhibition, public lecture or public performance, and therefore that censorship of it does not violate that section of the constitution. He was adamant that Paideia is our “winter session” and that the same rules apply to it as to academic courses.

      Essentially, he weaseled his way out of it through a pedantic, legalist argument and didn’t confront the spirit of that section, which he was obviously in violation of (I think he violated the letter as well, since Paideia classes are more akin to public lectures than academic courses… throughout the forum, he demonstrated a really stunning ignorance of what Paideia actually is).

      • Ruthanne Roussel '86 says:

        I always thought that Paideia was a student-led endeavor (or group thereof) that arose spontaneously because Reedies were interested in spending their time between Reed’s two semesters constructively. Not sure how to research this?

        Also, good luck getting your “Paideia grades” reported with your graduate school application!

        Finally, it seems this whole dust-up might well have been avoided had President Kroger taken a more consultative approach, along the lines of “Can you help me better understand how Paideia works, I have a couple of concerns.” We seem to be rapidly careening into the lawyerly.

Leave a Reply