Our chapter at Grand Valley State University just got recognized on campus, how exciting! We are very glad to welcome them to the SSDP Family, and asked chapter leader Kyle Giusti about his process and plans for their school.
1. How did you hear about SSDP?
I have been involved with Students for Liberty for almost a year now. Through this network I met Charlie Gers, president of the SSDP chapter at the University of Minnesota. I looked more into the organization and noticed there was not a group here at Grand Valley State University!
2. Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start a chapter?
The topic of the drug war is a very important issue to a lot of students. I had noticed in my tabling for SFL at my school a lot of students responded to the sentiment that the drug war should end. On top of the fact that legalization of marijuana is on the Michigan ballot this November, it felt only natural.
3. What has the reception been like on campus? From students, teachers, administration, etc.
We have yet to table or reach out to the campus as a whole. However, we have been reaching out to individual students, and so far, students from all political leanings overwhelmingly support the presence of SSDP at our school. Professors have been warm to the idea as well.
4. What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for next semester?
We have planned a movie screening for Reefer Madness so far; The idea being a display of government propaganda versus the reality of drug usage in the United States. With the semester ending in roughly a month, we have few plans. The plan right now is to generate interest in the organization first, and then develop a plan after we determine what students desire most out of SSDP.
5. What is the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far?
Support for SSDP has been positive at GVSU; Ironically, finding students interested in joining our executive board has been a challenge. We still are struggling to figure out a simple meeting time, as our school already has a multitude of political and advocacy groups – Many students simply do not see themselves as having the time to dive deeper in student organizations.
6. What is the most rewarding part?
I was impressed to see the mere mention of SSDP create an open discussion about the drug war and related issues. In my experience many students are turned off at the idea of “political” organizations – Focusing on specific issues allows students to challenge their views a small step at a time.
7. What are you most excited about for your chapter/school/state/region/SSDP/drug policy right now?
I am extremely excited for SSDP to take off at GVSU – I know it has the ability to! Michigan has the opportunity to finally be one of the states to move toward legalization – Another exciting event in our area right now.
8. What is your vision for GVSU SSDP? Where do you see your chapter in a year? In 4 or 5 years?
As I said before, SSDP allows students to break out of their political “camps”. My vision for the group is to create a common ground between all students’ political views – Even the most conservative students at my school support at the very least, decriminalization of at least marijuana. This is an exciting opportunity to, hopefully by this time next year, join together many students on this issue. In 4 or 5 years I hope that the topic of legalization of marijuana will be old news, and that discussions about other drugs, and the avenues towards solving the epidemic in this country, can be discussed without taboo.