It’s that time of the year again! School is back in session and newly established SSDP chapters are just rolling into outreach staffs’ inboxes. The folks at Colorado College are a newly established chapter and sent me some insight into what it’s been like for them to get started. Check it out!
How did you hear about SSDP?
One of the professors at our school teaches a class on the war on drugs each year. He asked some members of his class to consider starting this club last year. I became involved because I was interested in harm reduction for drug users and hoped to be able to make some productive changes to our campus drug culture. Additionally I started a chapter at my high school after finding out about SSDP online.
Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start a chapter?
As I mentioned above the chapter at Colorado College was spearheaded by a professor, Santiago Guerra. At the same time as he was organizing this I began asking around about the possibility of starting a chapter as I remembered from my high school’s chapter that SSDP was mostly made up of college chapters and felt that our campus could really benefit from having this sort of group to help students stay safe. Additionally our campus (as well as most college campuses I am sure) has many politically active students who care about the many humanitarian issues intertwined in drug policy. I hope that this organization will allow students to get involved in ending the war on drugs and educating the public on the facts of drug use.
What has the reception been like on campus? From students, teachers, administration, etc.
So far we have received support from most people we have interacted with. There hasn’t been any push back yet, but we have not yet done most of the initial pushing.
What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for next semester?
We hope to start some awareness campaigns about good Samaritan policies in Colorado and similar systems within our college. We hope to make students and members of the community aware that they can safely seek medical attention without legal repercussions and hopefully make students comfortable with approaching campus safety officers or administrators about drug related issues they may be having.
What is the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far?
Organizing large groups of people is logistically quite challenging . So far our chapter is still in its infancy and we are looking to find students who have the time to commit to long term roles in the group. With busy schedules and many other extracurricular activities it is hard to get people to commit time to something new.
What is the most rewarding part?
Having the opportunity to create something for my school that will hopefully be carried on throughout generations of students is really exciting. I hope that I can leave this club with the people and tools it needs to continue to play a role in Colorado Colleges campus policy and culture for years to come.
What are you most excited about for your chapter/school/state/region/ssdp/drug policy right now?
I am very excited about the potential over this next semester for organizing an open forum between school administrators, safety officers and students to lay out in the open campus policies on drug use and to get the school to commit to making students feel as comfortable as possible asking for help in any situation, without fearing repercussions such as expulsion.
What is your vision for Colorado College SSDP? Where do you see your chapter in a year? in 4 or 5 years?
I hope this chapter becomes a well known club on campus that students can look to as a resource for accurate information on drugs as well as an opportunity to get involved in public policy and political organizing.