THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE THE MEETING
Location, Location, Location!
If you’re not officially recognized by the school (and they don’t allow non-student orgs to reserve meeting space) – don’t let that deter you from having a meeting. If the weather is decent, you can meet outside at a well known landmark and either have themeeting there or decide where to go once everyone meets up. You could also meet in a public place on campus that doesn’t need to be reserved (i.e. a dining hall, student union, etc.).
If you are recognized by your school and you can reserve meeting space, keep in mind that you ideally want a place that’s easy to find, easy to get to. It also might help to schedule all of your meetings in the same place, so that members always know where to go.
For your own sake, it’s best to lay out an outline of how things you’d like to cover during the meeting in advance. You can collaborate with other officers and active members to see what everyone wants to do. Giving an introduction to SSDP is a good idea, especially since there will proably be many first time attendees there. Returning members could speak briefly about things they have learned from SSDP and their experiences with past chapter events/activities/meetings.
If you’re an already established chapter, be sure to invite your members from last year and encourage them to bring someone new who hasn’t been to a meeting before. Also, it can help to reflect back on previous chapter activities to evaluate what worked and what didn’t. You may also want to discuss this at the meeting and let everyone weigh in on what they would like to see from the chapter in terms of the whole upcoming year.
If you’re a brand new chapter and this is your first meeting ever, be sure to be in touch with your regional outreach director and we’ll be more than happy to give you some more detailed and specific advice on what to do during your first meeting.
- Hold a discussion on current events in drug policy
- Plan future events in the making
- Debrief after a chapter event that just happened
- Delegate tasks
- Leadership training
- Transition training
- Strategy Sessions
- Long Term Planning
- Address chapter problems, issues, or areas for improvement
- Work on projects in progress
- Brainstorm potential actions, campaigns, or events to engage in
GET THE WORD OUT!
– Create a facebook event, have all of the officers/active members invite their friends. If you haven’t started a facebook group for your chapter, it’s a great tool to use when organizing students, here’s a short video tutorial walking you through the process:
– Sidewalk chalk! (may want to check to see if it’s cool with your administrators, but it’s chalk, most places shouldn’t object) Check out some of the masterpieces UMD SSDP has created for inspiration.
– Make announcements in your classes (it’s best to ask the professor first, haha) – it’s really not that scary, honest! You just need to say “hey my name is ___, I’d like to invite you all to my student org meeting, we’re SSDP and give a short schpiel about why they should care.
– Freshmen! – tabling at new student orientations, tabling at student organization fairs, collecting e-mails of interested students outside of diners, dorms, other high traffic areas on campus.
– Guerilla tabling/flyering – You don’t necessarily need to officially reserve anything to table. All you need is a few people, some clip boards with sign up sheets, and possibly a sign/poster/banner. Once you have a flyer with all of your meeting info on it, you can shrink it so that 4 fit on a page, they save paper & money, and people are less likely to throw them away because they’re small and can fit in your pocket. You can also post signs around campus, lots of class buildings will have bulletin boards that anyone can use, dorm buildings/residence halls are a great place to put up flyers too. Check out the flyers page of our resources section on our website.
Set up in high traffic areas around campus (near dining halls, outside of dorms, around class buildings, libraries, etc.) and just ask people as they walk by if they’d be interested in SSDP. Of course, I’m sure you can probably come up with a much more creative pitch than that, for example: “Hey, how’s it going today? Do you think the war on drugs is working? [insert blank stare or big fat “no!” here. If they say “yes”, ask them to explain their position to you ] Well, neither do we. Students for Sensible Drug Policy is a group that thinks drug prohibition has failed, it hasn’t stopped people from using or abusing drugs, it puts addicts in prison, erodes our individual freedoms, and is a waste of tax payer dollars, so we think there must be a better way to approach the issue of drug policy.” Also, “Think we should be putting adults in prison for marijuana?” is a great one as well.
THINGS TO CONSIDER AT THE MEETING
Break the ice
There are lots of fun ways you can break the ice, especially if there are lots of new people there who don’t know each other. Depending on how many people show up, you could go around and have everyone introduce themselves and explain why they are there/how they found out about SSDP. Or you could ask people to get up and introduce themselves to someone they don’t know, then everyone could share something they learned about their partner (I know it sounds like a cheesy middle school thing to do, but things like this help people feel engaged and connected, not to mention get to know each other better and make friends). I’m sure you can come up with more creative things as well.
Get everyone pumped!
Don’t forget – being a part of SSDP is fun, too! Of course, we’re serious about the issues that we care about, but lots of people really cherish the social bonds they’ve created by being a part of SSDP. Especially chapter leaders should try to exhibit enthusiasm and confidence, it will help people come back again if they see that the leadership is excited and organized. Also, rousing discussions can (and should!) be a fun way to get people thinking and talking about issues of drug policy reform and can help develop individual opinions on the subject. Fun activities help a lot in the way of keeping people’s attention and keeping them coming back. In addition to the sometimes dry part of a meeting (event planning, strategic planning, policies & ways to change them) – try to incorporate something like a short video screening or sharing a recent article, piece of literature, or something like that.
As far as videos, here are a couple suggestions:
“The Student Movement to End the War on Drugs” SSDP’s International Conference 2006 – gives a really excellent overview of the organization, created from shots taken during our conference in 2006
10 minute version
Extended version (about 20 minutes)
“BUSTED – the citizens guide to police encounters”, 45 minutes
“Penn & Teller’s Bullshit! – The War on Drugs” – 30 minutes
any of these Law Enforcement Against Prohibition videos
or even shorter clips such as those found on SSDP’s YouTube page:
Gather people’s information
You can use the SSDP sign up sheets (can be downloaded and printed here: http://ssdp.org/resources/sample-materials ), you could make your own, and/or pass around a laptop. It’s up to you how much information you want to ask people to give you, but in my mind the more the better.
Let them know how to find you.
Make sure to mention how people can be in contact with the chapter/leadership. Reminding them to join the facebook group and/or listservs is helpful, and you can also send a follow up e-mail reminding them if you collect their e-mail addresses.
Give them something to take home.
You might consider preparing a handout that has your meeting schedule and/or list of upcoming events/deadlines, group officers and e-mail addresses, or any other contact information or things you think they’d find useful.
Take pictures & video!!!
You can upload them to our flickr pool: http://www.flickr.com/groups/486103@N23/pool/
And you can also upload them to your chapter facebook group, and/or send them to your regional outreach director if you’d like them to appear on SSDP’s website. Plus, we really like to see you guys in action, so let us know where to find any media you might have of your meetings.
- Once the meeting begins, introduce yourself and the organization.
- Take attendance and collect contact information (name, phone, email) with a sign up sheet
- Have the secretary or a volunteer take notes throughout the meeting.
- Delegate tasks and create action steps.
- Ask for volunteers to take the lead on specific things that need to be done and make sure to record who is supposed to be doing what.
- Talk about your own personal drug use (legal or illegal).
- Allow the meeting to drag or get off track.
- Allow the chapter to become dominated by your existing circle of friends.
- Allow one or two people to do all the talking.