SSDP is happy to announce that another chapter has joined our student activist network this week! SUNY Binghamton SSDP has recently become established on campus, and chapter leader, Stephanie Izquieta, is excited to get to work changing policy in the Empire State. I was lucky enough to have the chance to catch up with Stephanie last week about SSDP. Here is what she had to say about her involvement so far.
Name: Stephanie Izquieta
Current Standing: Junior
Major: Politics, Philosophy, & Law w/ a Minor in Education
Interests/ ambitions: Fighting the war on drug as an activist to eventually pass it as a policy maker one day in the future. I also enjoy bike riding.
How did you first hear about SSDP?
I first heard of Students for Sensible Drug Policy while conducting research for a seminar class that I am currently taking. The class covers current social movements and part of our grade consists of researching a social movement you are interested in. I chose marijuana reform. In the midst of looking for books and data I also looked for organizations that advocated for marijuana reform. I stumbled upon NORML, Drug Policy Alliance, and SSDP.
What made you want to get involved in the drug policy reform movement?
When I was much younger I was in favor for the criminalization of drugs. Drugs at that time held a negative connotation for me; I associated it with personal family problems that had plagued my life. As I grew up and was exposed to more information I realized how wrong my beliefs had been and how our policies are not addressing the real issues my political generation face in regards to the war on drugs.
How has the reception on campus been so far?
Unfortunately due to issues within our own student government we have only just been successfully integrated into the system. People we have informed of our initiatives are general content and hope to participate next semester when we become more active.
SUNY Binghamton SSDP Executive Board on campus.
What are some events and campaigns you have planned for your chapter?
Before lobbying upon Capitol Hill or anything similar, the e-board plans to properly educate ourselves on all talking points related to the drug war. Then we are to educate our members. Before we spread our message we want to ensure that no misinformation is distributed. After that we hope to collaborate with other organizations on campus to spread our message. Networking is power!
What is the most challenging part of your experience founding and/or running the chapter so far?
We were lucky when it came to the founding of the chapter. My friend was in the midst of charting a new organization on campus called Binghamton Students Rights Union. I asked him to annex a committee for Students for Sensible Drug Policies and from there the rest is history. I was fortunate enough to skip the hard part, but in retrospect perhaps the hard part of the process is what raises awareness. Either way we are now chartered and recognized and hope to mobilize next semester.
What is the most rewarding part?
I think the most rewarding part is that we are part of a bigger network of activists who believe the same things we do. It feels empowering to know that somewhere across the country in another campus there are other students fighting for our rights, fighting for people who can’t fight for themselves.
What are you most excited about for your chapter right now?
I am most excited for its potential. Our voices can change policy on a campus level and eventually on a state level. Creating an environment that fosters intellectual discussion on a serious issue that will face young Americans sooner rather than later is incredibly exciting for someone who studies politics and law as a discipline.
What is your vision for your SSDP chapter? What do you see your chapter accomplishing in the future?
I envision its longevity on campus. I hope it grows and networks with many other organizations because the drug war overlaps with many issues other organizations try to tackle. Whoever is entrusted with carrying on our mission will be as passionate as the current e-board. I place faith in our members and the foreseeable members we will gain. I also hope to network amongst the other SSDP groups in the SUNY system and at some point to attend at least one conference as a group before I graduate.