Written by Kunal Gupta ’21, Penn State SSDP Chapter Leader
How did you hear about SSDP?
I heard about SSDP through my own research as a potential way for students to get more involved in the landscape of law reform regarding substance use!
Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start a chapter?
I wanted to get involved with SSDP as I firmly believe that everyone has a right to make their own decisions. I think substance use has a strong negative stigma that is not warranted, and I believe responsible substance use should be viewed as a tool that individuals can use to work through their own life situations. Additionally, I believe that individuals should be provided with information for safe substance use, and that establishing an SSDP chapter can serve as an outlet for this information! I felt that creating an organization with like-minded individuals that can discuss pertinent legislative issues regarding substance use could be the first step in the process of drug reform in my local area.
What has the reception been like on campus? From students, teachers, administration, etc.
Few people know that an SSDP chapter has been created on my campus at Penn State! I will be working with myself and close friends to promote the organization to as many individuals as possible.
What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for next semester?
I plan on holding regular chapter meetings to discuss responsible substance use, especially in a college setting. Additionally, I will be working on promoting the organization through flyers, word of mouth, and on social media platforms.
What is the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far?
The most challenging part of this experience are the responsibilities that come with creating an SSDP chapter! Things like thoroughly understanding chapter guidelines, working on promoting the chapter to others, and educating myself so that I can lead discussions during chapter meetings are all challenging tasks, but are all totally worth it as promoting responsible substance use and advocating for drug policy reform make the grind worthwhile!
What is the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding aspect of creating a chapter and being an outreach member for SSDP is realizing that my dream of advocating for drug reform and pushing for a future of more individual freedoms are coming true!
What are you most excited about for your chapter/school/state/region right now?
In the short-term, I am extremely excited about the new chapter that I will be leading! The discussions of responsible substance use, potential reforms for legislation, and personal stories are all topics of conversation that are generally looked down upon and having a safe space to share this information with other curious individuals is something that I have been looking forward to for a while!
What is your vision for your SSDP? Where do you see your chapter in a year? in 4 or 5 years?
My long-term vision/hope for my SSDP chapter is that the conversations and topics of discussion that will be held during chapter meetings or campaigns will not be limited to these events. In other words, I hope that open conversations about responsible and safe substance use, legislative reform, and personal stories will be commonplace across my college campus and the negative stigma around these conversations will no longer exist. This is a long road, but I am excited to embark on this journey!