I’m thrilled to introduce our newest chapter in Ireland: University College Dublin SSDP! Chapter leader Ailish Brennan received news on Monday that the UCD Student Union voted to recognize SSDP as an official organization on campus. She is very excited to get started, and took the time to answer some questions for me about her new chapter:
How did you hear about SSDP?
I heard about SSDP through seeing one of my friends had liked the page on facebook right at the time I had started in college and had taken an interest in drug policy reform.
Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start a chapter?
The main reason I wanted to get involved was to help prevent the unnecessary deaths of drug users. Particularly, hearing the debate surrounding the planned drug consumption centres in Dublin and seeing the tragic case of the death of two young people who attended Fabric nightclub in London having consumed MDMA prompted me to get involved with this movement.
What has the reception been like on campus? From students, teachers, administration, etc.
The reception has been good on campus so far, I’ve received nothing but support. I haven’t really received any kind of backlash except for people worried that Students for Sensible Drug Policy actually means we are prohibitionists but they quickly realised their mistake!
What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for next semester?
UCD has a big festival called ‘The Ball’ which started last year and I would love to get a harm reduction service into the welfare tent there. On top of that getting reagent test kits available on campus is one of my biggest goals for the future!
What is the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far?
Definitely the bureaucracy as well as just my own lack of knowledge regarding that bureaucracy and what various different boxes I need to tick to be recognized by the university.
What is the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding part is definitely getting to meet so many inspirational people in Ireland and from around the world, all of whom are doing great things.
What are you most excited about for your chapter/school/state/region/ssdp/drug policy right now?
I am really excited about the overall state of drug policy in Ireland for the future. Irish law is still highly conservative but we are moving towards liberalisation of cannabis laws. I really feel the discussion on cannabis can pave the way further for total drug decriminalisation and the prospect of being involved in big legislative change is fantastic.
What is your vision for UCD? Where do you see your chapter in a year? in 4 or 5 years?
In a years time I hope to be on exchange so I just hope we can set up enough a base before I leave so the chapter can be thriving by this time next year. Further down the line, I would like to see Students Union running regular awareness campaigns and providing testing kits for students as mentioned above. Mostly I hope there are a new set of enthusiastic members working hard, enjoying all that being a part of SSDP has to offer, and continuing to campaign as passionately as ever.