Art by Peyton Stotelmyre / Daily Nexus

I started smoking at the end of freshman year of high school. I remember everything about the day, and in my New York suburban lifestyle, it was a rite of passage most of my friends completed at around the same time. It was a way to make the mundane activities we did on a regular basis more exciting. We had Manhattan as our nearby playground, which was transformed into a vast jungle after a few hits from a blunt. We grew into it together, and by senior year, cyphes were an activity that connected people in our year from all backgrounds within six degrees of separation — everybody had blazed with somebody.

My high school introduction to smoking weed and its various benefits as a social lubricant was a microcosm of UCSB. As I prepare for graduation and a life in which smoking weed has no place, I ask my peers on this hallowed 4/20: Why aren’t you smoking? Because UCSB isn’t quite the same when not seen through a sweet, smoky haze.

Freshman year in FT, I arrived to an entirely alien atmosphere. I didn’t visit campus at all before I left New York; I figured if the school was highly ranked for my major and had its own beach, I couldn’t go wrong. My floormates and I bonded as those who had never smoked before took their first hits, and those of us who had experience behind us guarded against Scooby Snacks and torched bowls.

We’d leave our dorm to sit in a circle in the adjacent fields, even bringing blankets with us in the colder weather. We’d cram eight people into the suite bathrooms and run the showers to kill the smoke with steam (a practice we stopped as alarm over the drought rose). We smoked to kill our hangovers and to make “South Park” more interesting, and as the year went on, we as a collective amassed impressive collections of bongs, percolators and clipper lighters.

UCSB is a haven for stoners. Granted, if you get caught on campus you’ll get written up, but the “case closed” shirts are so ubiquitous among the student body that you’re more likely to get high-fived than judged for wearing one. Sweet Jane sells UCSB shirts that are an acronym for “U Can Study Baked,” and while biking through Isla Vista, you’re ensured to smell herb at some point on your journey.

I’m not encouraging smoking all the time or shirking your responsibilities to get high. But college is the time when you can smoke without random drug tests (sorry, college athletes!) and potentially even smoke in your bed while watching Netflix and relaxing. It’s an act that rounds out hangouts and activities, makes your food taste better and is a catalyst for friendships and unique conversations and experiences. Smoking weed is to Gauchos what smoking cigarettes is to the French.

When you smoke, you realize how much of a community builder it is. Whether at indoor events like the Snoop Dogg concert or outdoor events like Extravaganza, somebody will be lighting up, so why not you? Bring a spliff to a party and see how many interesting conversations you’ll spark up with the people around you. Have a sesh on the beach and enjoy your newfound appreciation of the ocean in all its beauty. Better yet, this 4/20, take advantage of the many munchies deals that are available through SB Menus, and treat yourself to a splurge without the guilt and with more revelation of how delicious food actually can be.

UCSB is a beautiful campus that is even more beautiful looking over the blunt that could be effortlessly placed between your lips. It’s the perfect way to settle down after a long day of grinding under the tyranny of the quarter system, and it is the cure to all comedowns, from those of Adderall to Molly. The nooks and crannies in which you can engage in a quick puff-puff-pass with your friends abound, and you’ll find yourself exploring and reveling in the beauty of Isla Vista more so than usual. Childlike wonder is hard to resurrect, and while amazing life experiences can obviously be had sober, smoking reroutes you to the excitement we often miss out on in the grind of life.

So this 4/20 take a deep, smoke-filled breath and go have an adventure. This campus is replete with beauty, whether natural or human, and if you don’t notice it most of the time, I’m sure a little haze will clear your gaze.

Sebastianne Kent wasn’t even high when she wrote this.