Written by: Matt Port ‘19 SSDP Leeds Chair and SSDP UK Committee Chair
This year, Leeds University Union (LUU) passed a referendum that requires them to provide free reagent drug checking kits on campus! This a direct result of the actions of Students for Sensible Drug Policy Leeds, and we’re so excited about working with LUU on making it happen. The LUU democratic structure works through a process of forums, and the idea holder has to present to a randomly selected panel of students. We initially didn’t pass the idea, as I think some panel members were worried that people could be lulled into a false sense of security about drugs that they check, or even that it would promote drug use amongst students. We attempted to address these concerns by assuring that all drug checking kits will be accompanied by opportunities for support, and literature surrounding their use and their limitations. As the panel didn’t come to an agreement, a campus-wide referendum was held on the idea.
We worked with the Welfare Officer, Amy Wells, on campaigning for the week of the vote, making posters, and talking to other students. The referendum went in our favour, with the student newspaper publishing a story.
It passed overwhelmingly with 1,468 votes for, and only 66 against!
This comes off of the back of LUU changing their drug policy through the work of our chapter chair, Matt Port ‘19, and the Welfare Officer at the Union. They have gone from a policy of zero tolerance to one of support and signposting that also clearly lays out the legal implications and the University policies on the matter. We’re hoping other campuses, and our own University, can use it as an example of good practice for sensible policy writing going forward!