I am so excited to announce the formation of our newest official chapter, the University of Nebraska Omaha! Led by chapter founder Sarah Merrigan, UNO is in our Mountain Plains region and is currently our only chapter in Nebraska. Here’s to laying the groundwork in a state where we were previously not represented! I spoke with Sarah about her experience with founding the chapter and her hopes for what they will accomplish as they grow;
How did you hear about SSDP?
I first became aware of Students for Sensible Drug Policy while reading an issue of High Times magazine. Over the past few years, however, I have heard about the organization through many different social media outlets.
Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start a chapter?
Although drug policy has been a growing passion of mine for over two years now, it was only after watching Breaking the Taboo that I felt motivated enough to get involved. After searching for both SSDP and NORML chapters near Omaha and coming up empty-handed, I decided it was long over due for someone to take the initiative and begin an organized group in our community.
What has the reception been like on campus? From students, teachers, administration, etc.
As far as reception goes we are still relatively new and unknown, but so far everyone I have interacted with has been fantastic. I can only hope that the community’s reception of us improves as we spread word about the upcoming Slightly Stoopid AMPLIFY event!
What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for next semester?
As our first official event our chapter will be tabling at the Tribal Seeds and Slightly Stoopid concert in Omaha on April 19! We also have tabling opportunities at Love Fest in the Midwest and the World Wide Marijuana March in the works and are thinking about organizing an event on campus to tie-dye shirts at the end of the semester. Another idea we had was to host a screening of The House I Live In, but that is only a thought bubble for now!
What is the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far?
So far the most challenging part of running the chapter has been coordinating open communication with everyone involved, simply because we are all full-time students with other jobs and time-consuming commitments.
What is the most rewarding part?
Although the rewards of starting a local chapter have been plentiful, the most personally rewarding for me has been the network of communication I get to be involved in as a chapter leader. Thanks to an opportunity I learned about through another SSDP chapter leader I will be traveling to Portugal and The Netherlands in two months to learn about Drug Policy in a Global Perspective.
What are you most excited about for your right now?
I am currently most excited about simply spreading the word of our chapter’s existence and continuing to educate people in our community about why our drug policies don’t work. I’m also looking forward to connecting with other people in Nebraska who share my passion and have been looking for an outlet to express it.
What is your vision for SSDP at UNO? Where do you see your chapter in a year? in 4 or 5 years?
My vision for the chapter at UNO is primarily to motivate and inspire members of our community to gain an accurate education about drug policy. I think it is still too early for anyone to tell where we will be a year from now, largely because I want the passion of the group members to direct the action that our chapter takes. Our growth will also be dependent on changes in the laws of states around us (i.e. Colorado) and the federal policies relating to those laws.