We’re proud to welcome our newest chapter, Duke University, into the SSDP family! I talked to chapter founder and leader Russell Dulman about his experience so far and his vision for the chapter moving forward;
How did you hear about SSDP and what made you want to get involved?
I heard about SSDP through my roommate whose friend, Alfred Kilzi, leads the SSDP chapter at University of Miami. I thought the organization and its goals were great, that Duke University needed a space to talk about often neglected drug war issues that affect everybody, and that such a group could thrive at Duke. The success of the SSDP chapter at that other school down the road in Chapel Hill is also an inspiration.
What has the reception been like on campus? From students, teachers, administration, etc.
The reception on campus has been largely positive. It took minimal convincing to get our advisor on board and everyone else I talk to is just as receptive. There were less hurdles in the official university recognition than I anticipated, and I am thrilled to have navigated that process so we can start holding events.
What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semesters?
At Duke, we have many fantastic professors in all fields, some of whom are already lining up to speak at SSDP-sponsored events. I am incredibly excited to hear their insights and especially allow the entire Duke community to hear about and discuss the drug war from diverse perspectives. These include professors with backgrounds in science, medicine and research, criminal justice, religion, race relations, public policy, and more. The scope and breadth of the drug war’s impacts is astronomical.
What are you most excited about right now?
Drug policy is something for which I have endless passion. I am really excited about the changes I believe SSDP can bring about on Duke’s campus as well as the current paradigm shift within the state of North Carolina. Just this summer, the North Carolina Democratic Party endorsed both medical cannabis use and marijuana decriminalization. This is a big step in the right direction for the state and also a bold move for the southern swing-state leading up to this November’s election. Here on campus, I want to work with the Office of Student Conduct to clarify and improve the current alcohol-centric amnesty policy. I think there is also plenty we can do in terms of harm reduction as it relates to how Greek and other on-campus organizations hold open parties. In short, Duke SSDP is primed to hit the ground running.