March 2017 Monthly Mosaic: Diversity Awareness Reflection & Education at #SSDP2017

March 2017 Monthly Mosaic: Diversity Awareness Reflection & Education at #SSDP2017

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A hearty welcome to SSDP2017 from SSDP’s Diversity, Awareness, Reflection, & Education (SSDP-DARE) committee! Because the consequences of drug prohibition are far-reaching in their impact on different communities across the globe, exposing oneself to new perspectives is crucial to understanding  the totality of the drug war. We hope that you’ll seize the opportunity presented by SSDP2017 to make lasting connections with students, alumni, and allies from around the world, and help each other become better, more effective, and more engaged activists. This special conference-focused issue of the Monthly Mosaic will discuss intersectionality, inclusion, and diversity at  SSDP2017


  One of SSDP’s key values is diversity and inclusion, and the DARE committee strives to create a welcoming, open, and safe space for all stakeholders working to end the war on drugs. We endeavor to ensure that the range of perspectives of all communities and individuals negatively impacted by the War on Drugs are represented and  integrated into SSDP and the drug policy reform movement at large. SSDP-DARE defines diversity as including but not limited to: Age; Background, Class or Socioeconomic Identification; Culture and Traditions; Current Student or Nonstudent Status; Disability or Differently-Abled Status; Diversity of Opinion; Employment Status; Ethnicity; Gender Identification; Ideology; Language; Mental Health; Moral Framework; Nationality; Physical Health; Political Affiliation; Pregnancy & Parenting Status (pregnant people, custodial and noncustodial parents, foster and adoptive parents, legal guardians, etc); Primary Movement of Identification (formerly incarcerated, recovery, student, etc.); Race; Relationship Orientation and Status; Relationship With Drugs/How One Self-Identifies in Relation to Drugs (user, non drug user, addict, recreational user, medical user, abstainer, in recovery, etc.); Religion; Sexual Identification; Stake in Reform; Subculture; and any other self-identifiers.


  Being able to attend conferences is a privilege that many activists do not have. The cost of conference registration fees, travel expenses, lodging, and food can make attending a conference an expensive endeavor.  SSDP works very hard to ensure that as many students in the network as possible can attend the annual conference by providing scholarships through the CAT point system to cover registration and lodging, and SSDP-DARE also has our own scholarship fund for people who bring diverse perspectives to the table. The bureaucratic process involved with international travel also makes it difficult to attend conferences. Folks traveling from outside a country’s borders may need to apply for visas (most U.S. visas cost around $160 dollars). Nonetheless, 31 international students will be attending SSDP2017. Out of the 31 international students, 19 needed to apply for visas to come. 12 additional students applied for visas and were rejected.


  Two major changes you might notice at this year’s conference — and all future SSDP conferences — are gender neutral bathrooms and conference badges with personal gender pronouns.

What are personal gender pronouns?

Personal gender pronouns (or PGP) are the pronouns that individuals use for themselves (e.g. she/her, he/him, they/them, etc). SSDP Staff and Board members have been including their pronouns in their email signatures for quite a while now. This year’s conference registration form also included a section where registrants could enter their personal gender pronouns, which will be included on their conference badges, helping all of us better respect the gender identities of our members. SSDP strives to make a welcoming space for all of our members, so please respect people’s personal gender pronouns. Being misgendered can make someone feel invalidated and dysphoric.  If you make a mistake, you can quickly say “sorry, I meant [whichever pronoun the person uses]” and move on.

Why gender neutral bathrooms?

Gender neutral bathrooms are bathrooms that anyone of any gender can use. They  acknowledge the fact that there are more than two genders, and are necessary because not everyone identifies in the binary of male and female. In order to provide a safer space for transgender individuals, it is crucial that gender neutral bathrooms are easily accessible.  Transgender and gender nonconforming people can often find themselves in danger in gendered spaces, and transgender people are more likely to face harassment, intimidation, or threats in gender segregated bathrooms. Members of the transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming community face specific concerns and threats to safety depending on how they are read in certain situations. For example, if a woman in a women’s-only restroom is assumed to be a man, she may have the police called on her or worse. Often, transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming people must  go far out of their way to gain access to bathrooms that are more private or comfortable. Additionally, gender neutral bathrooms are more convenient for families and people with disabilities. Parents can accompany their children to the bathroom no matter what gender they are.  People with disabilities who need assistance when using the bathroom can be attended by a different-sex friend, family member, or caretaker.  


SSDP is a global community, and our conferences are a global space. SSDP2017 will have students from all over the world present, and it’s important we make sure guests to our country feel both welcome and safe. Here are some tips to help create this environment…
  • Be respectful of cultural differences. Many of the international SSDPers attending SSDP2017 have never been to the United States before and could be experiencing some culture shock. Make them feel welcome by introducing yourself, and asking where they are from and what drug policy is like in their country.
  • Create space for global perspectives. The vast majority of attendees & speakers at the conference will be from the United States, so it’s important to include space for international students to share perspectives from their countries. If you’re sitting next to an international student in a panel, ask them what they think of the topic and empower them to ask questions or share a perspective. During networking time, ask international students what challenges they face as drug policy activists in their home country. SSDP conferences are a great opportunity to learn from each other.
  • Participate in cultural exchanges. As important as it is to make space for global perspectives, international students also want to learn about where you are from as well. Tell them about where you grew up, how you got involved with SSDP, and suggest things to see and do while they are in the US. Many of the international students attending SSDP2017 will be staying in the country for a few weeks to attend other conferences and would love to hear your suggestions.
  • Assume best intent. There are many countries where discussing drugs is still a very taboo topic, and as such, you might hear some international students refer to using drugs as “sinful” or “morally wrong.” When you hear stigmatizing language like this, try calling in instead of calling out, and invite them to share their perspective with you. At the end of the day, we’re all here to end the War on Drugs, and you’ll ultimately find you have more in common with international students than you have differences.
  • Break the language barrier. While some international students may come from English-speaking countries, English is a second language for many others. When talking with a student whose primary language is not English, be patient, speak slowly, and don’t shy away from striking up a conversation. Dust off your high school foreign language skills and try your best! If you’re bilingual, consider offering to translate for an international student with questions.
  • Stay connected after the conference. Make sure you exchange contact info, add each other on Facebook, and make plans to keep talking to the international students you befriend at SSDP2017. Who knows? You may find yourself in their country one day, in need of a guide or place to crash!


Interested in further exploring drug policy’s intersections with race, class, gender, sexuality, geopolitics, and more? SSDP-DARE has highlighted a few sessions at  SSDP2017 which you might enjoy… Saturday
  • West African Perspectives on Drug Use and Policy (10:30-11:30am, Weyerhaeuser)
  • A Feminist Critique of the Drug War (11:45-12:45pm, Crown Zellerbach)
  • Rural Landscapes in Drug Policy Reform (11:45-12:45pm, Weyerhaeuser)
  • Staying Woke: Ally-ship, racial politics, and the collateral consequences of the drug war (11:45-12:45pm, Clackamas)
  • Abstinence, Recovery, Stigma, and the Drug Policy Reform Movement  (2:45-3:45pm, Crown Zellerbach)
  • Developing a Global Youth Coalition around Drug Policy for 2019 (2:45-3:45pm, Clackamas)
  • Sex and Drug (Policies) are Great Together: Building critical alliances between sex worker and drug user activists (4:00-5:00pm, Weyerhaeuser)
  • PLENARY: Lived Experiences: Stories from the other side of the War on Drugs (5:15-5:45pm, East Salon)
  • Diversity, Awareness, Reflection, and Education (SSDP-DARE) Meet-Up (6:00-7:30pm, Jantzen Beach Bar & Grill)
  • The War on Families: Who else is the drug war hurting? (10:30-11:30am, Weyerhaeuser)
  • Drug Policy Reform in the Global South: Options, new approaches, and experiences (10:30-11:30am, Clackamas)
  • We’re All In This Together: Bridging political divides & ending the War on Drugs (11:45-12:45pm, Multnomah)
  • Going Global: Becoming an effective advocate for international issues (11:45-12:45pm, Weyerhaeuser)
  • Eradicating the Compund Stigmatization of the LGBTQ Community and Drug Use  (2:45-3:45pm, Weyerhaeuser)
  • The Stigma Surrounding People Who Inject Drugs (4:00-5:00pm, Crown Zellerbach)
  • Drugs & Indigenous Cultures: An anthropological history (4:00-5:00pm, Clackamas)
  • SSDP-DARE KEYNOTE: When Dehumanization and Scapegoating Turns Deadly: President Duterte and the drug war in the Philippines  (5:15-5:45pm, East Salon)


Do an SSDP DARE and get points on the SSDP Chapter Activity Tracker)!

  • Attend the SSDP-DARE meetup and participate in the post-conference call. (10 points)
  • Share the Monthly Mosaic on Facebook or Twitter using #MonthlyMosaic. (10 points)
  • Write a paragraph in response to the Monthly Mosaic, and email it to Emory to be included in a blog post. (15 points)



Each Monthly Mosaic is edited by Emory Basso and Kat Murti. This issue also features contributions by Rachel Wissner, Jake Agliata and Sarah Merrigan. Each month, SSDP’s Diversity, Awareness, Reflection and Education (DARE) committee publishes the Monthly Mosaic, a newsletter dedicated to exploring intersectionality and the War on Drugs. Previous issues have covered topics such as  domestic violence, trans awareness, Black Lives Matter, and women’s unique experiences with the drug war. The DARE committee strives to promote inclusivity within the SSDP network, and facilitate collaboration and engagement with presently underrepresented perspectives, individuals, and movements. In order to ensure that the Monthly Mosaic more intentionally and meaningfully reflects these values, the DARE committee is pleased to invite members of our student and alumni network to submit ideas for upcoming issues.   If you have any questions, please contact Emory at We look forward to reading your submissions!  
Emory Basso ’12 They/Them/Their Operations and Administrative Associate Students for Sensible Drug Policy 1011 O St NW #1 Washington, DC 20001 Email + Gchat: Facebook: Cell: 757-274-6868 Office: 202-393-5280 ext. 19   Kat Murti ’09 She/Her/Hers Chair, SSDP Diversity Awareness, Reflection and Education Committee (SSDP DARE) Students for Sensible Drug Policy 1011 O St NW #1 Washington, DC 20001 Email + Gchat: Twitter: Facebook: Enjoyed the Monthly Mosaic? Donate to SSDP DARE.