Written by Lily Ramos ‘21, Rutgers University Chapter Leader
How did you hear about SSDP?
I heard about SSDP through searching for organizations dedicated to legalizing medicinal psilocybin and the decriminalization of drugs. I was fascinated as I have always been passionate about drug policy and the broken ones we have in the United States.
Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start a chapter?
I wanted to get involved because I was always passionate about drug reform and drug policy. However, I never knew a way to actually make a difference in my local community beyond volunteering for needle exchanges and encouraging my circle of family and friends to vote for better drug policies. When I learned about SSDP and realized that there wasn’t a chapter at Rutgers, I decided that this would be a good start in my activism.
What has the reception been like on campus? From students, teachers, administration, etc.
So far, Rutgers is predominantly online. However, I have had some students express interest in the organization. I feel like in the fall I’ll have a better picture of the reception of this chapter.
What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for next semester?
I want to plan informational events for students on campus as a method of harm-reduction as there are many students who have and continue to use substances. I feel that it’s better that they know the facts to stay safe while using substances rather than having a dangerous experience because of the traditional abstinence method of educating students on drugs.
What is the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far?
I think the most challenging part of my experience so far is just registering the organization as a larger part of my university as there are many clubs that require funding, so I need to attract enough members while being online in order for this chapter to be recognized officially with the University.
What is the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding part of doing SSDP and establishing a chapter is knowing that this chapter will be able to make a difference for students in the coming years.
What are you most excited about for your chapter/school/state/region right now?
I believe that New Jersey is on the threshold of starting a bigger movement behind drug decriminalization following the landslide legalization of marijuana. I think that we have the potential to decriminalize possession of drugs and advance other causes such as the legalization of medical psilocybin.
What is your vision for your SSDP? Where do you see your chapter in a year? in 4 or 5 years?
My vision for this chapter is to be an important part of the community in regard to service. Many communities have been negatively affected by the War on Drugs, and this part of the state is no exception. Even though marijuana has been legalized in this state and our Governor promises to use some of the taxes towards minority communities, it still isn’t enough. I hope that our chapter will be able to address this by fundraising for organizations that help families who have been ravaged by the War on Drugs as it has unfairly affected Black and Hispanic communities.