SSDP is very excited to announce the establishment of our latest chapter at Temple University. Located in the heart of Philadelphia, SSDP at Temple University is excited to get to work next semester on a variety of issues taking place in the great state of Pennsylvania. I was able to talk with chapter leader and founder, Rachael Friedmann, and here is what she had to say about her involvement with SSDP so far.
How did you first hear about SSDP?
I was introduced to SSDP through friends I had made at NORML Women’s Alliance meetings in Philadelphia in 2011. I’m not sure when I first heard about the organization but it has been pretty ubiquitous in my experience with the cannabis law reform movement.
What made you want to get involved in the drug policy reform movement?
I was taken to a NORML Women’s Alliance meeting by a friend who thought I would be interested, and I was fascinated by these sophisticated, experienced, outspoken women who were heavily involved in the movement. Diane Fornbacher was an immediate inspiration with her passion and hard work, and she helped me realize that this was purposeful, rewarding work that was worth all of the time we could put into it.
How has the reception on campus been so far?
Anecdotally, I would say that Temple students are overwhelmingly in favor of drug policy reform. I have met a small group of enthusiastic people who are new to activism but are confident and ready to be open in their support of this cause.
What are some events and campaigns you have planned for your chapter?
This semester unfortunately ends in a few weeks, so for now I plan to organize a coordinated effort with Philly NORML and other local advocacy groups to call flood city council members and demand that they address the messy law enforcement situation in Philadelphia that especially harms nonviolent drug-related “offenders”, their families, and their communities. I would also like to set up a panel discussion with four or five local drug policy reform activists who have backgrounds in various relevant professions (medicine, etc.).
What is the most challenging part of your experience founding and/or running the chapter so far?
The most challenging part of setting up a chapter was finding an advisor who met the university’s requirements. I found one at the very last minute after a month of searching and reaching out to my networks.
What is the most rewarding part?
By far the most rewarding part of activism for me is reaching new people through education and outreach. Every person who feels even a little bit inspired to act upon their moral/political beliefs is another valuable supporter. The ripple effect of sharing knowledge is priceless.
What are you most excited about for your chapter right now?
I am excited to get things started. I believe that my campus has plenty of internal support for this cause, and I have spent the past two years building my network in the greater drug policy reform movement on the East Coast which I can utilize to be as effective as possible on campus. I am excited to see my networking put to good use and test out the skills that I’ve learned the past two years as an organizer and leader!
What is your vision for SSDP? What do you see your chapter accomplishing in the future?
I see my chapter developing an active and strong presence on campus through both classic advocacy actions (film screenings, call floods, flyering, panel discussions) as well as innovative, fun events that may draw more casual support while still effectively raising awareness and educating our community.