Univalle, a free cost, public and prestigious university of Cali, Colombia (only students with “high,” outstanding grades are accepted) offers more than a “higher” education. Here you’ll find students on a “higher” state of mind, and well, consciousness.
How I got in
Since my father is originally from Cali (3rd largest metropolitan city in Colombia), I went to visit a long lost cousin who introduced me to the uni-TOPIA. None of us attended the university, so we sneaked past guards who seldom checked i.d’s. The trick is to get there before nightfall, as security gets tight. The best way to walk in is with a bunch of students, speaking Spanish, not looking suss, but also as if you own the place. Bringing a backpack definitely boosted our chances, but let’s not forget our pretty faces and innocent “gringo” scent.
The campus is huge: acres, a lake full of iguanas and weird looking ducks that could be part iguana, a skate park, soccer and track field, gymnasium, pool, and even a farm known as “el huerto” (where we spent our first moments in awe).
The area you’d normally call a “lobby” is covered in graffiti and green haze. You’ll never believe your senses. I had to double take inhale — Marijuana everywhere, in every corner, intertwined within every person –breaking up, rolling, licking, puffing, laughing — it made me sick.
I got whiplash, frantically flicking my head back and forth, looking for an authority, but there was none.
As you come closer to the center there are two tables that you’d think to be selling school supplies, but instead, a stand of paraphernalia that deals out rolling paper, grinders, pipes, lighters, etc.
A stand over sells edibles (I snagged one for the sake of it), and as you walk deeper into the abyss, you’ll feel lost, forgetting that you’re supposed to be in a university and not a squat (“Squatting In Paris” ).
Similar to squats, it’s a free for all, but the only difference is that this place has a strict curfew, closing their doors at 11 p.m., right before the hour of doom, when the freaks come out (the freaks come out at night!).
Alice In Univalle-land
It’s complete bliss. Taking it in, “using” or not, is a choice, and no one’s forced to do anything. Students express themselves to the fullest extent here, without walls or gates abstaining freedom of speech or thought.
Professors and “higher” officials are well aware of the fact, but say or do nothing because they don’t have any legal power of authority, and despite all the haze and daze grades aren’t effected. Students perform equally, perhaps better even.
You’re probably asking yourself WTF am I talking about, or if this is real — YES.
Okay so, children run wild with glee, meaning they puff, pass, toke, and smoke until their eyes bleed.
It’s a university, how bad could it be? Not that it’s bad at all, they’re just free.
Not just Maryjane
The minute I regained consciousness, cause’ I admit that I lost it — not from the weed, but from the shock, I slipped out once more when I discovered that Univalle openly transacts any form of drug. From cocaine to opium, and can’t forget our all time favorite LSD. Out back beyond the farm, between bamboos trees and 6 ft. high stalks of grass, people can score whatever their hearts pleasantly desire.
If you’re asking yourself — no, just because the drugs are rampant here doesn’t mean they are legally accepted.
Simply put, police forces are prohibited to enter the university’s premises, making Univalle one of the few universities in all of Colombia where students are granted complete utter, freedom and liberty. The security guards do their jobs by staying only near the campus’ entrances, and that’s about the highest form of authority. They’re really just there to protect students from outsiders, and also — you guessed it, from police.
Reason for no police? The president of Univalle believes students will perform better if there are no authorities constantly breathing down their backs throughout campus.
A little History
Back in the 60’s – 80’s many students were actively involved with issues regarding Colombia’s guerrillas, cocaine explosion, etc. They were time and time again mistreated with brut force, which, in one scenario, resulted in the death of an innocent university student by a police official. As we all know, authorities only make matters worse in any given protest, so now, on the contrary, it is actually against the law for police to enter Univalle — I repeat, against the law, yes, illegal. And through the years, students, professors, and even outsiders (like myself) have laid down their own rules…
~ FIN ~
Just Remember: what I did to enter is not 100 percent accepted, but if you find a friend or are specially invited then by all means. You can also try to find Colombian students to tutor in English ;).
The easiest times to gain entry is before 4 p.m. (16:00). On the weekends there are parties, events, galleries, and just about everything, BUT only until 11 p.m.
Univalle.edu.co – University’s website
Calle 13 # 100-00, Cali, Valle Del Cauca, Colombia – University’s Address (located in the southern part of Cali)
Take el Mio (Cali’s public transportation) southbound on bus line T 31 and get off at “Univalle.” Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!