The Students for Sensible Drug Policy family is an incredible community. Every new addition to the family is cause for celebration. So, let’s celebrate one of our newest members, Addison Caruson! Addison is an ambassador with SSDP at Duke University School of Law. He found out about SSDP through a friend and reached out to get started. He is passionate about cannabis law and regulation, and is working toward a career as a cannabis lawyer. His passion for policy led him to complete the Campus Policy Gradebook for Duke University. I asked him a few questions about his experience and findings working on the Campus Policy Gradebook. Here’s what he had to say:
How long did it take you to get through the Campus Policy Gradebook?
It took me about an hour to two hours. Luckily, Duke had a lot of their information online so most of the information I was tasked with finding was easily accessible.
What was the most surprising thing you learned about your school’s policy?
The most surprising thing I learned was what seemed to be the lack of mandatory sanctions for students who violated policies. At my undergraduate school we had mandatory minimums for many situations which, while it may have made the proceedings more expedient, also did not let us take into context the situation or the student before us. Giving judges and people who make judicial decisions more discretion is important as they are the ones who can see the facts of the case, and it was nice to see Duke applying this idea to their internal judicial process.
What were the biggest challenges you faced while working on the CPG? What are some of accomplishments you’re proud of?
One of the biggest challenges was locating the RA information as it was somewhat vague on some of the policies but I was able to find it and get the necessary information that was needed for the gradebook. The biggest accomplishment though was merely completing it as it gave me a much better sense of my institution’s policies and allowed me to look at it as a whole as opposed to individual parts and that gave me a better understanding of its strengths and weaknesses.
What would you suggest to another student who is unsure of how to start with the CPG? What would you recommend to a student who is struggling to finish?
I would say they should not be afraid to reach out to people who might be helpful or even students who are involved in the judicial process and sit on the various boards. I was on our school’s student court as an undergraduate and would have been happy to help with this project and I doubt I am an anomaly.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience doing the Campus Policy Gradebook or what you hope to do with this information?
This has allowed me to gain a better understanding of where Duke succeeded and where it could do a little more work. With this information, it will allow me to better craft solutions to problems and understand where to build on Duke’s success and identify policies that might need another look. I can also compare this to other schools and understand how each schools’ policies relate to each other and perhaps what different schools can learn from each other when crafting these policies and attempting to balance the safety of the students with the rights and freedoms that their students deserve.