New Member Interview: California Lutheran University SSDP

New Member Interview: California Lutheran University SSDP

Califonia Lutheran SSDP Exec Board.
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SSDP’s staff is ecstatic to announce the formation of a new chapter at California Lutheran University (CLU), a private liberal arts university in Thousand Oaks, California. I’m grateful to announce that “the future of drug policy is intelligent, ethical, and hardworking.”

In just a few short months, the chapter has been building a solid foundation for its future. Their leadership has built a strong executive team, and chapter leaders have been able to forge new relationships with campus administration. They have engaged with community stakeholders, organized panels, and identified federal legislation that they want to change.

Additionally, the CLU SSDP chapter has autonomously engaged with fellow Southern California SSDP Chapters by hosting online training workshops. During the peer-led workshop, newer chapter leaders met and asked questions from established SSDP Chapter Leaders about organizing. Everyone walked away enlightened on recruiting, hosting events, engaging in policy, and building comm California Lutheran University (CLU)unity on campus. 

The California Lutheran SSDP Chapter was founded by Matthew Steed (22) and Jackie Miller (22) but has many dedicated, intelligent, and thoughtful advocates pushing sensible approaches to drug policy. The following interview was conducted with Jackie and Matt shortly after the chapter was founded in March. 

Tell us about yourself, your schooling and background, and your career goals?

Jackie:  “Hi there! I’m Jackie Baca Miller. I’m originally from Santa Clarita, and am a southern California native. I am currently a clinical psychology doctoral student with a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. I’m also an aspiring psychedelic-assisted therapist, specifically interested in psilocybin-assisted therapy towards Major Depressive Disorder, addiction, and anxiety-related disorders.

Matthew: I currently attend a Clinical Psychology Doctoral program at California Lutheran University and specialize in PTSD treatment and intimate domestic violence. I hold experience in working with underserved foster youth populations with serious mental illness, behavior management with those with developmental disabilities, substance abuse treatment, and organizational psychology. Currently, my passions lie in working with homeless populations, those with serious mental illness, substance abuse disorder, PTSD, and the unfortunate intersectionality of all of the above. In the future, I hope to open a private practice in which I can utilize my clinical skills to help populations across the board. I also am fascinated by the use of psychedelics and other entheogens for the treatment of psychological distress, something that I hope to incorporate into my future practice as a psychologist.

Why is drug policy reform important to you?  

Jackie: Drug policy is advocating, protecting, and supporting individuals’ access to mental-health and eradicating legal punishment (such as imprisonment involving drug-related offenses) of marginalized groups. Drug policy reform also means valuing human rights, equity, and increasing access to medicines that can help heal emotional wounds and traumas. I am specifically interested in the decriminalization of psychedelic medicines in the state of California. Check out SB 519 for more info. 

Matthew: Drug policy reform is important to me for many reasons. First and foremost, the criminalization of drugs has led to the stigmatization of society as a whole, and many in my family. I see how the war on drugs has impacted our nation and led to increased substance abuse, lack of treatment, and increased incarceration, especially for individuals of a minority population. I truly believe that reforming our drug policies would be a massive step in the right direction for solving many issues that we face in our nation currently.

What events, initiatives, and activities do you plan to host or get involved with as an SSDPer?

Jackie: One of our initial goals is implementing the Good Samaritan Act on our college campus. We also want to provide harm reduction training for our members (ex. Naloxone training). Another goal is to help reduce recidivism and drug-related prison sentencing of marginalized groups. We are also interested in tabling at local events to help increase drug knowledge and harm reduction practices. Lastly, we would love to collaborate with other local Southern California chapters (CSULB, USC, CSU Fullerton) on a professional speakers series that highlights psychedelics as therapeutic tools.

What have the vibes been like on campus since starting the club?

Jackie: So far, we have been met with a lot of support and enthusiasm-both faculty and students! They have expressed interest in getting involved at our chapter, which makes starting SSDP at CLU a really exciting venture.

What policy goals do you and the CLU SSDP Chapter want to work on ?

Jackie: Some policy goals include getting involved in collecting signatures for measure SB519 and assisting inmates at a local level, who are currently in prison for drug-related offenses. 

Matthew: Local decriminalization, good samaritan laws at our campus and local community colleges, changing harm reduction policies within our county, and many others.

Define leadership and give us examples of what a good leader looks like.

Jackie: Leadership is speaking up against injustices, advocating for others, and collaborating with a group for a bigger cause that is greater than your own. A great leader is someone who can listen effectively, communicate ideas clearly, and work well with others. They are someone who genuinely cares about the people and causes that they are leading. A leader’s  true intention is to help guide their group to a more healthy and just place; one with greater access to opportunities for their constituents.

The spirit of “SSDP“ is to innovate and initiate change while building a respecting and loving community, the folks at Cal Lutheran definitely embody this spirit. SSDP’s community appreciates your ability to balance doctorate level courses, jobs, partners, pets, and life. 

SSDP staff is excited to watch the California Lutheran Chapter grow, and believes they will be great assets to furthering drug policy, research, and a better world as a whole. This world isn’;t going to change itself, and everyone has a part to play. Be on the lookout for events centered around psychedelic research, harm reduction, and drug policy reform!

First California Lutheran Chapter meeting

Jackie Baca Miller

Matthew Steed