Introducing SSDP Huddersfield

This blog is written by Dominic Gill ‘21 & the SSDP Huddersfield Committee.

Chapter Leader: Tell me a bit about yourself, what you study, your interests and why you decided to start a chapter.

Hi, I’m Dominic and I am a final-year Politics student at the University of Huddersfield. I’ve only recently become interested in drug policy, and have been shocked at the consistent failures of the system to do any good. Instead of laws and processes to promote good health and individual liberty, we have an archaic system of punishment that benefits nobody. Instead of being offered support, those who take drugs are being given fines and prison sentences. This is not the right approach.

Your Country: Tell me a bit about the war on drugs in Huddersfield and what needs to change.

The war on drugs is a failed, US-led campaign to put a stop to drug production and distribution. Alas that campaign has evolved into an attack on BAME and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities; black people are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, and our elected officials openly admit to consuming drugs while simultaneously failing to rectify the broken system. Change needs to be made. Let us approach drug use and misuse from a point of compassion, not aggression.

Your Chapter: What are your goals, what actions do you hope to achieve, tell me a bit about your members, what will be your focus?

As a committee, we have decided to take SSDP Huddersfield in the direction of harm-reduction: What are the desirable effects of a certain drug? What are the undesirable side effects? What do you do if someone is having a bad reaction to a substance? We hope to provide open discussion with our peers on each of these points, helping to keep everybody happy and safe.

Unfortunately, having been established in the middle of lockdown, there are many types of events we are unable to host. That being said, we are all really keen to jump in regardless, and hope to have our very first (online!) event shortly.

Anything Else: If there’s anything else that you think adds to your identity that you would like included in this blog post, please share it with me.

Meet the rest of the SSDP Huddersfield committee:

Vice President, Sophie Halborg ‘21: For many at university, drug consumption is an inevitability. I therefore want to help students challenge drug-related stigmatisation. I want those who do decide to consume drugs to have all the information they may need readily available, so they are in the best position to consume drugs as safely as possible.

Secretary, Alex Roden ‘21: I work with the SSDP community [because] I am passionate about changing drug policy into something that focuses on harm reduction, rather than punishment. Nobody should be shamed for taking drugs: we can never truly know what somebody is going through, and what made them make that choice in the first place. What matters to me is that everybody is safe, cared for, and treated with the utmost respect they are deserving of.

[1] Dodd, V., 2020. Black people nine times more likely to face stop and search than white people. The Guardian, [online] Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/oct/27/black-people-nine-times-more-likely-to-face-stop-and-search-than-white-people> [Accessed 19 January 2021].

[1] Seelye, K., 2006. Barack Obama, asked about drug history, admits he inhaled – Americas – International Herald Tribune. The New York Times, [online] Available at: <https://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/24/world/americas/24iht-dems.3272493.html> [Accessed 19 January 2021].

[1] Simons, N., 2019. Boris Johnson Admits To Taking Cocaine, But Says It Was Only Once. Huffington Post, [online] Available at: <https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/boris-johnson-admits-to-taking-cocaine-but-says-it-was-only-once_uk_5d039389e4b0304a120de627> [Accessed 19 January 2021].