Our growing network of 4,000 members on 300 campuses in 12 countries is full of outstanding young people, and it’s my honor to be able to share just a few of their stories with you this holiday season. It’s because of the support of people like you that today will mean our growing network of 4,000 student members — members like Ariana Watson — could have access to all the resources they need to transform their communities and our future.
Ariana is a sophomore at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, where the SSDP chapter has worked over two school years to implement a complete 911 Good Samaritan policy, ensuring students are able to call for help without fear of sanctions or prosecution if a friend is experiencing an overdose of drugs, including alcohol. Ariana and her chapter fostered a positive working relationship with campus administrators, leading to adoption of the policy last spring. But that wasn’t enough: 911 Good Samaritan policies don’t help unless the community is aware of and actively committed to enforcing these life-saving policies. When Dickinson administrators were delaying implementation this fall, it was pressure from Ariana and her chapter that kept them accountable. Dickinson SSDP kicked off their 911 Good Samaritan policy education efforts at a fall concert where they hosted a Sensibility Space featuring non-judgmental peers, a place to cool down, water, and harm reduction information.
Ariana’s thoughtful approach to the intersections of drug policy with criminal and economic justice, especially for people of color, was highlighted when she spoke on a panel at last year’s SSDP Northeast Regional Conference, and has since earned her the distinction of being elected Dickinson SSDP’s first Diversity Officer. She identifies drug policy as a critical issue in ending injustice broadly, explaining that “our current drug policies, in conjunction with the prison industrial complex, facilitate exploitation of people, specifically people of color, while punishing manifestations of larger problems like poverty and addiction.”
Help us make sure students like Ariana can save lives by enacting 911 Good Samaritan policies, expanding access to syringe exchanges, and eventually ending the criminalization of drug users in Pennsylvania and beyond by making a one-time or monthly donation to SSDP today.