The Legacy of “Stoneonta”

CNY News

Cheyenne Dorsagno, Copy Editor

Teachers aren’t the only ones handing out grades because, Niche, a website where students can grade their school online, gave SUNY Oneonta a C- in drug safety.

SUNY Oneonta has come to be known as “Stoneonta,” mainly because of the supposed rampant drug use on campus. Since 2005, on Urban Dictionary, it has been defined as “a wonderful school if you are getting your ‘higher’ education in the field of alcohol, THC, or cold pizza consumption.”

Another definition described SUNY Oneonta as the “mystical land ruled by snow and hippies. At least a third of the campus smokes pot.”

In 2014, SUNY Oneonta had the highest rate of campus drug arrests in the United States, according to a project by The report said that there were 13.6 arrests per 1,000 students.

According to the The Daily Star, Hal Legg, SUNY Oneonta’s Director of Communications, said “The information shared demonstrates our commitment to that position, our effectiveness in policing, and the decisiveness of our response when we find illegal drugs here.”

Students reacted with disbelief.

“The drug atmosphere here is really big. I don’t think that it necessarily has more going on than any other school though,” said sophomore Morgan Ruggiro. “It seems like nine out of 10 people that I come in contact with smoke weed or have at least tried it. UPD takes drugs seriously here to a degree but I also get the impression that they don’t have the sole intention to catch you for small offenses like smoking pot.”

So what has made Oneonta more infamous for stoner students than any other campus?

“I heard the name started in between like the 60s or the 80s because there were mad hippies congregating here. A dude I know said his dad went here and told him people would be smoking joints everywhere you looked,” said junior Katie Garrity.

One former student of SUNY Oneonta shared a similar story from her time at the school in 1979. Now age 55, Mary Jane, whose name has been changed for her anonymity, said, “You could find a quiet spot in the quad outside and pass around a doobie.

People just looked the other way. Maybe it was because the hippie culture was just ending.”

Mary Jane said that SUNY Oneonta was where she learned to dampen a towel and put it under the door so the RAs wouldn’t smell the marijuana.

“I went to a really different high school. Sixty people in my graduating class, all white and protestant. I was shell shocked when I went to SUNY. I was like, ‘Holy crap! There’s a whole world out there!’” said Mary Jane.

She used to live in Hays Hall and recounted a few of the guys from her hall often playing guitar in the stairwell for the acoustics. At times, she could smell the marijuana they were smoking wafting down the hallway.

“Everyone was always smoking. I never remember anyone getting in trouble that semester for smoking pot. It wasn’t really an issue. It was kind of ignored,” said Mary Jane.

She explained that, back then, most of the weed people smoked was home grown and not the “super charged,” or strong, weed that people have now.

“I don’t remember it being called Stoneonta. But maybe I was high. It was known as a party school,” said Mary Jane.

These days, there are varied responses regarding how harshly the school responds to marijuana, how available it is, how popular it is, and how blatantly it is used. Some think that the school has outgrown the Stoneonta name and Ruggiro, for example, finds the reputation “kind of funny” and exaggerated. However, the activities may have largely moved underground. Sophomore Khila Pecoraro said that the hippie culture has not died and she, along with her friends, are self-proclaimed hippies.


  1. I graduated from Oneonta in 1978. At that time marijuana wasn’t used any more than any other State school, that had students from the NYC metro area. At that time SUNY Stony Brook had the reputation as a weed smoking school.

    That was a long time ago, so I don’t know how it changed since then, but don’t blamevthe rep on the ’60s and ’70s.

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