I’m very excited to announce the formation of a newly established SSDP chapter at the University of South Dakota. I’ve been working with Jimmy and Lenette, co-leaders of the group, for some time now. After a long and arduous recognition process, they have emerged successful and started an SSDP chapter at USD that I believe will leave a lasting legacy on campus and beyond. Check out some thoughts from Lenette and Jimmy about their new student group! 1. How did you hear about SSDP? Lenette: I heard about SSDP through Jimmy (our fearless leader), so it made me want to research the group because what Jimmy said about SSDP saw eye to eye with what I believed. Jimmy: I was introduced to SSDP through a “NORML” group in South Dakota. I contacted the group after I was met with unfortunate legal repercussions through my university’s policies. After said event, I wanted to fully participate in activism towards informing young people alike and changing policies so that no student is taken away from their future endeavors because of a simple plant. 2. Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start a chapter? Lenette: I wanted to get involved because I saw a huge difference in the personalities of people who view all drugs as bad but glorify alcohol (as if that substance isn’t harmful in large quantities) versus people who actually did the research on the effects of various drugs. Jimmy: Going through the legal process was possibly one of the most dreadful times I have ever experienced. I could not make sense of certain policies here at my university. For example, if one were to be a minor in possession of alcohol in the dorms, the consequences would be a small fine and a corrections class with no legal repercussions (a mere slap on the wrist). However, if that same person were to be caught with marijuana the next steps they would need to take are: hire a lawyer, appear in court, pay a $500 fine, pay $100 fine to the university, take a corrections class, and receive a permanent stain on their record hindering most chances of getting a steady career path. 3. What has the reception been like on campus? From students, teachers, administration, etc. Lenette: So far, I’ve only talked to students about SSDP and most people are willing to listen to someone their age comparing and contrasting drugs, policies, and the steps to a better future. Jimmy: Generally, people are open to the idea of learning about SSDP as an organization. The only people who seem to disagree with this are the kind who do not want to be or associate with others in the “drug scene”. 4. What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for next semester? Lenette: Next semester, I’d like to schedule a collaboration with another group (USD’s Association for the Advancement of Women’s Rights might be a good choice) to further educate people through either a movie showing or a tabling event on campus. 5. What is the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far? Lenette: The hardest part was literally just getting the group recognized because it was early in the spring semester this year when we applied and it took them 7 or 8 months to send us an email telling us that we can get started. Jimmy: Scheduling meetings and canvassing the students. 6. What is the most rewarding part? Lenette: Just knowing that there are many people who are just willing to learn about what SSDP has to offer makes me feel great about finally starting up this organization here on campus. Jimmy: It feels good to know that we are finally a recognized organization on campus. Our goal is to bring in open minded people to collaborate with us. 7. What are you most excited about for your chapter/school/state/region/ssdp/drug policy right now? Lenette: Educating people through relaxed group meetings and taking my mind off my major for a couple hours in a biweekly fashion. Jimmy: To bring change to the university and inform the young people. 8. What is your vision for USD SSDP? Where do you see your chapter in a year? in 4 or 5 years? Lenette: I see SSDP turning some people’s heads. South Dakota, like many states, is very conservative and I think that through the mere power of accessible information, we can make some changes happen. It all starts in the mind. Jimmy: I think with enough students, we can insight change and ensure that people will have the right overall knowledge on drugs and drug policies.