Frequently Asked Questions About Starting a Chapter
Q: What do I need to do to start an SSDP Chapter?
A: In order to be recognized as an official chapter of SSDP, you must meet at least two of the following three criteria:
- Receive official school recognition;
- Hold regular meetings;
- Attend national and regional SSDP events (such as conferences).
The chapter must contact SSDP’s international office to become an official SSDP chapter.
Chapters are also expected to embrace and exemplify the mission and values of the national organization.
Q: Great, so how do I receive recognition from my school?
A: Each school has its own process for recognizing organizations, and this process is usually explained in a student handbook. The best places to start asking around for information about starting an organization are the office of student government or the office of student involvement. Many universities require student organizations to have faculty advisors, so a good first step is always to reach out to professors who you think may be supportive of drug policy reform. You should also draft up a chapter constitution – many universities require one. You can download sample constitutions here.
Q: Do I have to pay dues to SSDP International?
A: Not at all. Anybody should be able to join SSDP, regardless of the amount of money you have to spend. Your commitment to drug policy reform is payment enough.
Q: If I start an SSDP chapter, will I have to follow orders from somebody in Washington DC?
A: SSDP has always been a grassroots organization that values the autonomy of its chapters. SSDP does have a national office in DC, but its sole purpose is to serve the chapters. Though we may encourage you to work with us on national campaigns, we want you to work on what’s important to you. So, in short, NO, you won’t be receiving orders from the national office.
Q: Cool. So chapters can do whatever they want?
A: Almost, but not quite. Being part of an international organization requires a commitment to the mission and values of that organization. For example, since the organization “neither encourages nor condemns drug use”, encouraging people to smoke marijuana is not OK. However, encouraging people to change marijuana laws is more than OK. As a rule, SSDP activity is focused on drug policy, and not on using drugs.
Q: OK. Drug policy. Got it. So what’s next?
A: Start organizing! Our resources page has plenty of materials to get you started. And regional outreach coordinators, Drew and Devon, are available to guide you through the process of starting a chapter. If you haven’t contacted your regional coordinator yet, please do so here. If you are a student outside of the United States, you can contact our international organizer, Zara, here.
We look forward to hearing from you soon!