I’m thrilled to announce that SSDP has a new chapter in Liberia at United Methodist University! Chapter leader Ewelle Williams first got in touch with us at the end of March and since then, he has been tirelessly working to set up an SSDP chapter at his school. So far they’ve been hosting two meetings and are well on their way to influencing drug policy on their campus and in Liberia as a whole. I spoke with Ewelle about his progress so far and some of his plans for the future:
How did you hear about SSDP?
I heard about SSDP through my mentor Mr. Clements O. Stephens, a member of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), and a social development worker advocating for the rights and welfare of children and women in Liberia.
Why did you want to get involved/ what made you decided to start a chapter?
I am a youth activist who wants to see change for our future generations through the growth and empowerment of all Liberians, especially young people who are the future leaders of tomorrow. I got involved so I can advocate for the empowerment of drug war victims in my county, understanding that people who use drugs are human just like every other citizen. I decided to start a chapter to bring others on board with the same version of alleviating the marginalization and incarceration of drug war victims in our society and making sure that the right policies be made for the betterment of drug war victims.
What has the reception been like on campus? From students, teachers, administration etc.
It has been a very challenging/overwhelming process on campus, especially in getting approval from the administration to carry on my publicity on campus concerning SSDP. As I waited on the administration for approval, I was consistently working undercover with students and teachers in joining me to establish a chapter. Through my underground publicity, most students saw the need to join me in the struggle to establish SSDP at the United Methodist University. Administrators and teachers have had little input contribute to the upcoming SSDP chapter, but students have had a lot of input to contribute.
What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for the next semester?
I have planned series of events/campaigns such as:
What is the most challenging part of your experience starting /running the chapter so far?
The most challenging part of my experience running the chapter is raising funds for our campus registration so we can start to carry out our functions and mission officially as a campus based organization.
What is the most rewarding part?
It is that most students are beginning to join the movement and assisting in spreading the SSDP mission to the general campus population, including administrators and teachers. Lastly, students are volunteering their time to be present in the SSDP meeting discussions.
What are you most excited about for your chapter/school/state/region/ssdp/drug policy right now?
The most exciting part of my SSDP chapter right now is that we are having regular discussions to plan policy that will help with the well begin and empowerment of drug war victims in school/region/state/ etc.
What is your version for the United Methodist University? Where do you see your chapter in a year? In 4 or 5 years?
My version is to see United Methodist University SSDP comprised of influential students leaders advocating on the well begin and empowerment of drug war victims in society through liberty, compassion and freedom, and to established an SSDP building on campus as our national campus office. I do see my chapter in 4-5 years achieving all the SSDP goals, and having a great impact on the policy making of drugs war victims in my country, and decentralizing SSDP chapter throughout all campuses in Liberia, to help with the empowerment of drug war victims.
- Setting up a policy team to review the University Constitution
- Recommending a policy plan to the administration on the well begin of drug war victims, especially students.
- To campaign and protest on the wrongful dismissal of student drug users from campus.
- To establish and recognize an SSDP United Methodist University Debate Team in spearheading our work.