Start a Chapter
Start a chapter of SSDP and join the student movement to end drug prohibition.
A Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) chapter is a group of students who are working toward ending the war on drugs, and who receive training, guidance, materials, and support from SSDP’s professional outreach staff based in Washington, DC. Starting a chapter takes a little work, but it isn’t prohibitively difficult or time-intensive. Unlike most chapter-based student organizations, we do not charge our chapters any dues or fees. We also have tons of free (and some close-to-free) useful resources to help you build your chapter, spread the word, lobby for key issues, and actually change drug laws, at the local, state, and federal levels (see our active campaigns here).
The steps below outline the typical process of starting an SSDP chapter. Every school, chapter, and chapter leader is different, so take this more as a general guide than hard requirements. Stay in touch with your Outreach Director as you go through the steps and keep us up to date on your progress so we can help with any snags that may come up along the way. We’re here to be a resource for you!
Not sure if your school already has a chapter? Find out!
How to start an SSDP chapter at your school
Our Outreach staff is available to help with everything outlined below and with anything else involved in building and maintaining a chapter. If you have any questions about the chapter start-up process, please email us.
1. Submit a New Chapter Application
- Fill out this form to start the process.
- Once we receive your chapter application, a member of our Outreach team will get in touch with you to help guide you through the steps below and connect you with our resources and other chapter leaders.
2. Learn about SSDP and our available resources
- Read SSDP’s mission and values statement.
- Check out our extensive collection of resources for student activists, including sample chapter constitutions, printable flyers, press release templates, and more!
- Read our Student Organizing Manual for tips and best practices on building and managing a successful chapter.
- Read our blog to see what we and our chapters have been up to.
- Attend one (or all!) of our leadership webinars to hone your skills in lobbying, fundraising, chapter management, leadership transitions, and more.
- Talk, connect, and share wisdom with SSDP chapter leaders all over the world in the SSDP chapter leaders Facebook group and on the SSDPtalk listserv.
3. Earn official student group status from your school
- Look into your school’s requirements for new student groups/clubs/organizations.
- Usually this process involves some paperwork, such as submitting a constitution. Find samples and templates to help with this on our website. If you don’t know where to start for finding your school’s requirements, try searching the web for “[your school] student organizations”
- Typically, schools will require new groups to find a faculty advisor as well. Start by asking professors you know who might be sympathetic to the issue. You can also search your school’s website for professors in related subject areas such as criminal justice, sociology, political science, and economics. Your Outreach Director can also help with finding a faculty advisor.
4. Put information about your chapter online
- Create an email address for the chapter. Ex: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Create a Facebook group, twitter, website, or other online resource to start recruiting interested students.
- Create a chapter listserv or google group.
- Make sure to let us know when you create your Facebook group, Twitter, etc. so we can add it to your chapter’s page on the website.
5. Start holding meetings and events on campus
6. Send us your first chapter roster
- Once per semester, we ask that you send a list of of your chapter members in this format to the national office.
- This is so we can accurately measure the size of our student membership and effectively activate all of our supporters for action alerts.
7. Change policy!
- Run or participate in a campaign to reform marijuana policy at the campus, local, state, or federal level
- Advocate for a 911 Good Samaritan Policy on your campus or in your state
- Get drug policy reform in the mainstream by getting your elected official on the record about marijuana or other drug policy
The student movement to end the war on drugs is expanding rapidly, and we’re happy to welcome you into that growing movement. Talk to you soon!
- SSDP’s International Staff