Introducing Oregon State University SSDP

Written by Hunter Cram ’20, OSU SSDP Chapter Leader

How did you hear about SSDP? 

I initially heard of SSDP when it was brought up during an interview in an episode of Professor David Nutt’s Drug Science podcast!

Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start a chapter? 

I met a previous SSDP member through a peer education online “class” who urged me to reach out to SSDP about starting a chapter at my university to put my passion behind drug policy reform, harm reduction, and drug war intersectionality into action.

What has the reception been like on campus? From students, teachers, administration, etc. 

Most students and instructors I have brought SSDP up to have been optimistic about the potential for our organization to advocate for change on campus. OSU is fairly progressive, requiring completion of an alcohol harm reduction program for freshmen. I hope we can expand on this to provide harm reduction education for all of the drugs students use.

What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for next semester? 

Depending on social distancing and quarantine-related limitations, I would like to begin tabling and providing peer education resources (particularly related to study drugs) on my campus. This would also be a great way to connect with interested students and interact directly with the student body on campus!

What is the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far? 

So far, the greatest difficulty has been finding members for our chapter during quarantine as well as recognition of our chapter as an official student organization by the university. This recognition requires more members, and recognition would allow us to network much easier with interested students. The issues exacerbate one another, but we are making progress!

What is the most rewarding part? 

In the time since first reaching out to SSDP, I have already made numerous connections with wonderful SSDPers and learned so much relating to intersectionality, policy, and peer education in particular. I look forward to using the tools SSDP has provided and the wonderful connections across the network to learn, teach, and advocate sensibly.

What are you most excited about for your chapter/school/state/region right now?

Oregon is spearheading statewide drug policy reform at this time in the U.S., and I’m excited to be here and getting involved during this time of reform. As the limited decriminalization and psilocybin-assisted therapy programs are implemented across the state, I feel it is more important than ever to provide peer education and harm reduction services in local communities.

What is your vision for your SSDP? Where do you see your chapter in a year? in 4 or 5 years?

I hope that our chapter can pioneer university programs and a culture of compassion in student & faculty discussion of drug use by the student body. Instead of upholding systems of oppression and stigmatizing people who use drugs through archaic policies, it is time to reform the policies and provide valuable harm reduction education & tools. It’s the sensible thing to do.