Name: Romain Bonilla
School: Portland State University
Romain Tabling for SSDP on Campus
SSDP: When did you first get involved with SSDP?
Romain: In 2009, while I was studying at Saint Cloud State University. I had become interested in drug law reform when I first moved to the United States in 2008. SCSU had a few pro-liberty student groups, but there was no organization focused primarily with drug policy, so a few friends and I got a SSDP chapter started. In 2010, I transferred to Portland State University where the lack of an SSDP chapter led me to set one up in Fall 2011. Dylan, Mike, and myself currently serve as directors.
SSDP: What has been your favorite SSDP experience?
Romain: I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the candlelight vigil held in Portland for the 40-year anniversary of the War on Drugs, a great event which gathered a good hundred people as well as coverage in the local media. It was great seeing how Portlanders feel about drug policy, and this remains one of my most inspiring experience as part of SSDP.
SSDP: What issues are most important for your chapter?
Romain: Ending cannabis prohibition is definitely an important issue for the most of us. Many of us are concerned about the Federal government’s escalating hostility towards medical marijuana, which is legal in Oregon and yet is still targeted by raids. Other campaigns we are passionate about are harm reduction and drug education, as we need to help provide reliable information and care to those that need it most – those that were left behind in the War on Drugs.
SSDP: Do you have any events planned for the this semester?
Romain: Yes! We’re planning on organizing a game of Humans vs. Zombies for Halloween as well as several documentary screenings on-campus. With extensive tabling and fundraising, we’re hoping to bring speakers to the university. We’re also collaborating with SSDP chapters in Lewis & Clark and Reed College, and I’m excited about working with them for future events!
SSDP: What do you like best about being part of SSDP?
Romain: Overall, I particularly enjoy the opportunity to discuss drug policy with those that aren’t involved in the discussion. It’s great being able to have a rational dialogue about a subject that too many still view as taboo, and often times people become more open-minded when approached with professionalism and common-sense. Being a part of the growing movement for drug law reform is definitely a source of inspiration.
SSDP: Do you have any advice for other chapter leaders?
Romain: Don’t hesitate to let others bring their own approach into the group. On any given issue, other members each have their own skills and ideas, their own majors and topics of interest. Diversity of opinion and input allow for members to get involved in projects they feel passionate about, but also to cover for the leaders’ flaws. No one is perfect, so surround yourself with as much input as possible!
SSDP: Any fun facts about you?
Romain: I can’t vote! I’m a French citizen who grew up in Holland and Morocco, and I’m in the US as an international student. Being multicultural is always interesting, but it comes with an odd and ever-changing accent. I also whistle like there’s no tomorrow.