Written by Lucca Pastore ‘20, Los Angeles Community College Chapter Leader
How did you hear about SSDP?
I heard about Students for Sensible Drug Policy through social media. Specifically Instagram, and even more specifically from an account called @25i_nbomeme. The admin of this account posts a lot of funny bilingual memes and also talks a lot about harm reduction on his page, something I think is really important. He mentioned being a member of SSDP, and mentioned their association with harm reduction, which got me interested in it myself!
Why did you want to get involved? What made you decide to start a chapter?
I was drawn to SSDP because I feel there is a really large spectrum of important things that they handle, discuss, and work on improving. I'm interested in Law and wanted to be a part of something I'm passionate about that also contributes to making social change. I also believe SSDP is very accessible when it comes to involvement. Since the first day I showed interest in starting a chapter, they have been extremely helpful in extending guidance and the proper resources to me. Because of this, I feel confident in the organization and don't feel alone which encourages me to move forward!
What has the reception been like on campus? From students, teachers, administration, etc.
It's hard to say what the reception is like on campus due to the fact we are currently all online with COVID. However, I was surprised by the large volume of attention I got from my peers when recruiting online. Everyone who's joined our chapter has their interests and knowledge to bring forward, and it's been super cool so far.
What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for next semester?
For the next semester, I'd like to further a lot of discussions about the War on Drugs and harm reduction. I would like for us to all learn from one another and find our direction in making a difference.
What is the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far?
The most challenging part so far is starting up in the middle of a global pandemic. Many things that may normally be done with a chapter, such as tabling or in-person meetings, are out of the question. However, there are some pros to operating online. We can all meet with ease through the computer despite all living in different areas of LA and having different life schedules. It's a challenge operating in this current time for sure, but also something new to navigate with its own advantages!
What is the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding part is starting a conversation with my peers and building a sense of community. It's really amazing to see conversations and ideas get started. It's really nice to open my phone and see a bunch of messages in our group chat. I feel like we are all in it together, starting something really valuable!
What are you most excited about for your chapter/school/state/region right now?
I'm most excited to start acting on the things we are discussing. As I said earlier, we are currently finding our goals and what'll be good for us to do. I look forward to developing together.
What is your vision for your SSDP? Where do you see your chapter in a year? In 4 or 5 years?
I'm not sure where we will be in 4 to 5 years, but my hope is still active! Even if our current members have moved on by that point, it'd be nice to pass the torch, keep the ball rolling, or something like that, and continue to be an active chapter for years to come.