This month, SSDP gained another chapter at the University of California (UC) Irvine School of Law! UC – Irvine School of Law will join our other law school chapters to address the harms and failures of the drug war from a legal and academic perspective. Being a law student gives you a unique perspective to address the drug war and take action on campus, and that is just what chapter leader, Lauren Mendelsohn, plans to do. I had the chance to catch up with Lauren last week to discuss her chapter start-up in depth, and here is what Lauren had to say about her involvement in SSDP so far.
UC Irvine School of Law SSDP chapter leader Lauren Mendelsohn
How did you first hear about SSDP? I heard about SSDP as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland. I was very involved with the chapter there and served as president and outreach director before graduating in 2013. What made you want to get involved in the drug policy reform movement? Logic. I couldn’t understand why people could endorse policies that are unjust, costly, ineffective, and based in hearsay. I felt obligated to educate others and to advocate for progressive changes. How has the reception on campus been so far? Fantastic! Students and faculty alike are excited for the new perspective SSDP will bring to the law school community. What are some events and campaigns you have planned for your chapter? Nothing’s set in stone yet, but ultimately I would like to host networking events with local attorneys working in criminal defense, public policy, and related areas of law that LSSDP chapter members might consider as a career. We also hope to have speaker panels and debates. What is the most challenging part of your experience founding and/or running the chapter so far? Time – there just isn’t enough of it anymore! What is the most rewarding part? Being able to stay involved with Students for Sensible Drug Policy for another few years, and knowing that I extended LSSDP’s reach to the Los Angeles area. What are you most excited about for your chapter right now? Getting off the ground! UCI Law is a young school so there’s a big push for students to get involved with organizations. What is your vision for UCI LSSDP? What do you see your chapter accomplishing in the future?
I’m hopeful the chapter will have a lasting and positive impression on the law school. UCI LSSDP will encourage students to be activists for justice, and will provide a progressive outlook in conservative Orange County. On a more concrete note, UC Irvine lacks a campus-wide Good Samaritan Policy, so that is a campaign I hope to take on at some point. —–