SSDP at Northwestern is the newest addition to our diverse Midwest chapter network. This week I was able to catch up with chapter leader Frances Fu about her involvement with SSDP. This is what she has to say about her experience so far.
SSDP: How did you hear about SSDP?
Frances: I heard about SSDP from James Kowalsky, the president of the SSDP chapter that used to be at Northwestern University. He suggested that I attend the SSDP Midwest Regional Conference at Roosevelt University, and since then, I realized that SSDP was something that I wanted to be a part of.
SSDP: Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start a chapter?
Frances: I decided to get involved because the War on Drugs was not an issue that was being addressed on campus. Many of the people that I talked to that were against legalization seemed to feel that way because they did not have accurate information about marijuana or the War on Drugs. I decided that it was time to break the stereotype of the typical supporter of legalization and learn how to educate others on the issues in a professional, articulate manner.
SSDP: What has the reception been like on campus? From students, teachers, administration, etc.
Frances: Most of the students at Northwestern have been very open-minded when I’ve approached them with this issue. Even though the students that I talked to did not always necessarily agree with the things that I had to say, they were always great with asking more questions and stating their opinions in a constructive way. We have found a great adviser that fully understands and supports our goals of legalization to correct the social injustices that occur as a result of the War on Drugs. Surprisingly, more faculty and staff members than I expected have been enthusiastically supportive of this cause.
SSDP: What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for the spring semester?
Frances: For the spring semester, I hope to hold various educational programs at different residential halls to talk about the basic issues of the War on Drugs, and collaborate with different student groups with similar interests to co-host larger, general events, such as movie screenings, guest speakers, and socials. Hopefully by the end of this year, SSDP at Northwestern will be a well-known student group that has successfully generated discussion about the War on Drugs.
SSDP: What is the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far?
Frances: The most challenging part of starting/running this chapter so far has been the fact that there are many misconceptions as to why we want to do this. Because it is a group that supports the legalization of drugs, many people think that our goals end there, and do not recognize the many other facets of drug policy problems that we are trying to combat.
SSDP: What is the most rewarding part?
Frances: The most rewarding part for me is giving people new information about drug policy that they otherwise would never have learned about before. It isn’t always possible to convert everyone I meet into a drug policy activist, but there is definitely personal satisfaction from raising a little bit of awareness each day or convincing someone new to think about these issues in a different way.
SSDP: What are you most excited about for your chapter/school/state/region/ssdp/drug policy right now?
Frances: I am most excited about the fact that this chapter has already garnered a lot of support from students and administration. Because it is a new chapter, I am excited to start planning programming with other student groups so that we can start getting our name and our message out there.
SSDP: What is your vision for SSDP? Where do you see your chapter in a year? in 4 or 5 years?
Frances: In a year, I hope that the SSDP at Northwestern will have effectively planned programs that influenced people at the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty/staff levels. By the time I graduate in 4 years, I hope that this SSDP will have gained enough support to become an important, stable part of Northwestern University. I hope to see that our campus has become better educated on drug policy issues and that there is more support for legalization in general.