UM Ann Arbor SSDP Excutive Board Members
Clockwise from top left: Nick, Jacob Fromm, Sebastian Swae-Shampine
Sahana Rajan, Emily Basham, and Murphy VanSparrentak.
Name: Nick Zettell
School: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Chapter Position: President
SSDP: When did you first get involved with SSDP?
Nick:My Freshman year I went to a mass meeting made some lifelong friends right then and there. I didn’t really think joining a student org. was really my M.O., but I saw a bit of intriguing promotion around campus and decided to check out the meeting. That has been one of the best decisions of my college career.
SSDP: What has been your favorite SSDP experience?
Nick:The international conference in D.C. was an amazing experience for me. I loved being able to meet so many great people, make friends and roadtrip with preexisting friends, and hear some great speakers. On top of visiting the University of Maryland’s beautiful campus and Washington D.C. for the first time, this is definitely a contender. Otherwise there are a few times where I have very randomly met someone from a different chapter. Right here in Ann Arbor I have, by chance, run into members from chapters at UConn, Grand Valley State University and Williams College. These were all really random encounters and each one was an eyeopener to how big this movement really is I would say these are my favorite moments.
SSDP: What issues are most important for your chapter?
Nick: As for most important, I cannot speak for everybody in my chapter, but there are definitely a few issues on which we are constantly focusing our efforts. Prohibition of cannabis is an especially hot topic considering Michigan’s 2008 passage of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act and all the back-lashes from state officials. I just received word of an upcoming ballot initiative to add a constitutional amendment that would outright legalize cannabis in Michigan. We’ll be working hard to help collect signatures for that.
Nick: We to focus on all facets of drug policy. We’re steering our focus away from prohibition and focusing on legal drugs for an upcoming event regarding the pharmaceutical industry. For example, since 1996 Michigan has been the only state that has outlawed the filing of lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies. Something about that doesn’t sit right, and there are all sorts of different policies regarding pharmaceutical companies.
SSDP: Do you have any events planned for the this semester?
Nick: The aforementioned event titles “Prescription Pandemonium,” is coming up early December. We will be hosting two UofM professors to speak on the effect pharmaceutical promotion can have on doctors’ prescribing practices. For some of our bigger events we try to extend our event into a daylong campaign of sorts. For this we’re going to promoting during the day by handing out analog pill bottles filled with candy with event information on the label. We often try to use our promotion itself as a medium through which we can make an ironic statement; in this case caricaturing the willy-nilly prescribing of pills. We will also be having a movie screening before the end of the semester. Next semester however, we are planning an event focusing on the Prison Industrial Complex and its ties with the War on Drugs.
SSDP: What do you like best about being part of SSDP?
Nick: The camaraderie. I have developed an amazing relationship with the members of our chapter as well as members nationwide. It is amazing to have a network of like-minded people working toward common goals. I would feel comfortable visiting any college with a chapter and contacting their board about meeting up. It’s really a great feeling.
SSDP: Any fun facts about you?
Nick: I’m exceptionally good at tongue-twisters. Seriously though. And if that’s not fun then I seriously have to reevaluate my priorities and how I spend my leisure time.