Based in my home state of Virginia, James Madison University (JMU) is home to our newest official chapter! Founded and led by Sociology major Staci Hostetler, we expect JMU SSDP to be a fantastic addition to our Virginia chapter network. I spoke with Staci about building the chapter and her vision for the future; How did you first hear about SSDP? I was actually on some social media site (either Instagram or Twitter) and I saw pictures of an SSDP chapter doing a “Wake and Bake” sale, which I thought that was very clever and interesting, so I started to do a little more research and knew right away SSDP was something I wanted to be involved with. Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start a chapter? I saw that JMU didn’t have a chapter yet, and I thought this was a perfect opportunity to expand the networks in Virginia and make our region even stronger. Sensible drug policy is something I’m passionate about, so this has been a very rewarding and exciting journey thus far.
JMU SSDP Chapter Founder and Leader Staci Hostetler (left)
What has the reception been like on campus? I was actually a little surprised on how open people were to the idea of this club and their desire to help out. Our advisor was on board right away, and so were the people I had asked to help out in the founding of this club. I even got asked by a few of my peers who had seen my SSDP sticker on my laptop if they could do anything to help and when the next meeting was. This gives me high hopes for our chapter here at JMU and I can’t wait to get started! What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for next semester? Next semester I definitely want to work on educating the JMU community on current drug policies and what we can do to make them more effective. I plan on screening some documentaries on campus, and hopefully hosting an SSDP week sometime in October! I also plan on taking some members to our regional conference in hopes to learn more about other chapters and help build our networks! JMU has also opened up multiple opportunities for organizations to be involved around campus so we are definitely going to take advantage of those, as well! What has been the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far? I think the hardest part is going to be recruiting members. While I do think that a lot of people will be on board, getting people past the idea of any possible negative stigma that may come with our club may be a little challenging at first. I feel as though if we promote our club in a positive and effective way, that won’t be too much of a problem! What has been the most rewarding part? I think the most rewarding part of this so far has been becoming recognized officially by JMU. It’s exciting to know that I will be able to work with a great group of people in helping better drug policies on a local/state/national level, and the fact that we are one step closer is amazing! What are you most excited about right now?
I am really excited to be able to work with other chapters in building better state-wide policies, and potentially even getting to the point where cannabis is legal in Virginia. In the mean time, I’m ready to start educating and promoting sensible drug policies and getting people involved in the process!
What is your vision for JMU SSDP? Where do you see your chapter in the future? I am in high hopes that our chapter will grow into a very involved organization on campus. I want to expand our membership and make sure that we are known not only throughout our campus, but throughout our surrounding communities, as well. Hopefully in the next few years we can finalize state-wide policies in schools, like the Good Samaritan policy. I know that with a hard working team and great surrounding chapters we can make good things happen! 🙂 — Are you a student at JMU? Get involved!