Oc’tokerfest at Eastern has been forgotten

Josh Saxton, Assistant Photo Editor

This past July, Eastern, along with other colleges across the state, outlawed smoking on its campuses.

While some would say that it is no big deal, other nicotine-loving students and faculty would quite possibly kill to be able to smoke in the free air going about their everyday lives at school.

Since the passing of the law in July, there are more and more people sneaking around to get their nicotine fix as some can very well see the various kinds of cigarette butts strewn about campus. 

If I were to ask some of the smokers in the student body and in the faculty I could bet they would say that they would love to smoke outside with all freedoms and peace intact and not have to treat this legal substance as a controlled one.

In the fall of 1978 the students of this fine university decided to turn the tables and openly treat a controlled substance as a legal one.

Students would host Eastern’s first marijuana smoke-in on the Library Quad.

The appropriately named: “Oc’tokerfest” was held on the Library Quad on Oct. 4, 1978, at “high noon” around 11:45 a.m.

Apparently 300 student smokers showed up to the event by 1 p.m.

During this time, students and passersby would socialize, singing songs, playing instruments or tossing around the football, or flying kites.

It would do some good to know that university police were out patrolling the scene at various times, however made zero arrests during the demonstration. 

During Oc’tokerfest, University Police Captain Jack Chambers was quoted saying, “There were no big problems. It was rather peaceful.”

Imagine that! If you get a bunch of people stoned in one spot, nothing bad happens.

If you get a bunch of people drunk in one spot, something bad is bound to happen. But, I digress.

The Warbler of 1979 and the Oct. 5, 1978 issue of The Daily Eastern News are the only documented proof that this was indeed a real thing, trust and believe that I searched far and wide and this event was never mentioned again.

Upon a Google search of said event, all sources led back to the 1979 Warbler yearbook. 

However, amongst the few documented photos of the smoke-in, one shows a reporter from an ABC News affiliate in Decatur speaking with students, proving there was news coverage of the smoke-in.

Oc’tokerfest 1978 seemed like a great success, and I am full of questions.

Do students know of this part of Eastern’s history?

If not, why don’t the students know about this?

Why are these demonstrations not held anymore?

The legalization of marijuana is starting to become more realistic day by day.

It has been proven to be less harmful than cigarettes and alcohol, both of which are perfectly legal. 

Also, 23 states now allow marijuana legally.

Out of those 23 states only three have made marijuana just as legal as a pack of cigarettes, or a case of booze.

So, almost half of the country is down with Mary Jane.

Some people like to get high, that’s a known fact, but cannabis can do much more than that.  It is medicine, it revives appetite, it’s a painkiller, it can be used for paper. 

Soon it could be just as vital as a smartphone, and just like the cigarettes before them, the joint roaches can be strewn about Eastern’s campus with the cigarette butts.

Josh Saxton is a junior journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].