Last week, I had the opportunity to Skype into the first ever chapter meeting of Guilford College SSDP. It was without a doubt one of the best, first meetings I have ever attended. This was not very surprising to me because the chapter founder, Christian Honein, has been a thoughtful and communicative partner over the recent months as I have been advising him from afar. He brought these same attributes to his chapter meeting and it showed. This chapter is especially dedicated to harm reeducation and is looking forward to having a positive impact on their campus community and the city of Greensboro, NC, where the Guilford campus is located. The whole chapter has already completed AMPLIFY training and they are looking forward to doing some local harm reduction tabling and sharing educational information with their peers and fellow Greensboro residents. As Chris explained to me on our first phone call last semester, “Drug policy is important to me because the war on drugs has been a complete and total failure, even exponentially more so than alcohol prohibition. We need to come to the understanding as a society that drug use is not a moral failing or a criminal act, and drug abuse is a public health issue that should be addressed as such.”
Chris also has a track record of having an impact on campus policies which predates his SSDP involvement. Last academic year, he joined the Student Judicial Affairs Committee where he helped led an effort to reduce the penalty for marijuana possession on campus to be equal to the penalty for being caught with alcohol. Of course, the primary argument he made is that the school should be assisting in educating students about the potential harms of particular substances rather than punishing students for possessing them. But if the school is going to engage in punitive measures, at the very least, those measures & punishments should be reflective of the relative harms of those particular substances.
Based on the impact that Chris has already had at Guilford and the enthusiastic nature of this new SSDP chapter, I believe they will go on to become one of our flagship chapters in the region and the entire network.