We proudly welcome SSDP’s newest official chapter, American University, led by Sam McBee! I talked with Sam about his experience with the chapter so far and his vision for it moving forward;
How did you hear about SSDP?
I had known about SSDP prior to entering school as a freshman last year and I had seen stickers around campus when I arrived; however, I was not until last fall, after attending a Q&A on the War on Drugs and meeting SSDP’s Outreach Coordinator Drew Stromberg, that I was finally given the opportunity to be a part of SSDP.
Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start a chapter?
This year I was finally presented with the opportunity to dedicate some time and effort to mobilizing AU students to get this club up and running. Last year, I was given the “de-facto” title Vice President of the (then inactive) AU chapter and my classmate Sean Meehan was named the de-facto President. Unfortunately, however, it proved to be very difficult to get much done as a student club with no official university recognition, especially as it was being run by two freshmen. Slowly but surely, we gained support and increased our network. This year, Sean and I worked with our classmates Leo Zausen and Madison Mullen to finally become an officially recognized student organization.
What has the reception been like on campus so far?
The reception has been great so far. I don’t think I have met anyone at AU who believes the American Drug War is a good idea.
What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semesters?
We haven’t made many plans yet, though we are likely to start off tackling the absolutely ridiculous disciplinary policies at AU for students found with cannabis, especially as they compare to policies regarding students found with alcohol (so we will seek to “equalize” the disciplinary policies of cannabis and alcohol offenders).
What is the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far?
The most challenging part of starting the chapter was completing the university requirements for student organizations on time. We literally handed in all of our materials on the last day that they were due and came very close to missing the deadline.
What are you most excited about for your chapter and drug policy right now?
My passion has always been cannabis and cannabis policy reform, with an emphasis on ending industrial hemp prohibition in America. That being said, my biggest source for excitement probably lies with the three cannabis legalization initiatives that currently exist in Washington, Colorado, and Oregon. If any one of these passes then I am sure we will see a huge wave of reasonable changes to drug policies around the country.
What is your vision for American SSDP? Where do you see your chapter in a year? in 4 or 5 years?
There are a lot of students at AU who want to end the drug war and there is a lot that we can do with the combined resources of the university and the national network of SSDP. So long as we can ensure effective leadership and inspire influential action/activism within the AU community, I see this chapter being very influential in the future.