It’s January, and for most of our students that means it’s time to start the Spring semester. Like many other SSDPers, you might be asking yourself how you can start off the new year with a bang. So, I thought I would share some exciting event ideas that you can host to attract new members to your chapter, while also keeping older members involved and engaged. One of the easiest ways to kick off the semester is with a fun event that stimulates the discussion on your campus, and here are some SSDP chapter event ideas for the new year:
Plan a Know Your Rights Event:
Most people don’t know their constitutional rights or how to handle a police encounter. This is something that is great for new and old members alike. Everybody should know their rights, and it never hurts for a refresher. Great ways to host a KYR event including screening a Flex Your Rights video (10 Rules for Dealing with Police or BUSTED: A citizens Guide to Surviving a Police Encounter) and hosting a discussion or panel afterwards. I have planned and attended many of these events in the past, and my favorite are always those that include a local ACLU/Criminal Defense Attorney, an actual police officer, or law professor that can answer questions about your rights and how to properly go about asserting your rights when you need them most.
Host Film/Documentary Screening and Discussion:
Film screenings are a great way to connect the dots for people who don’t realize the true harms of the drug war. This is why screening films can be such a powerful chapter event. Ideally, you can screen a film and host a focused group discussion afterwards that is facilitated by a chapter leader. You can also look at inviting the director/producer of the film, and discuss the film’s intentions afterwards. A few good recommendations for films SSDP chapters have had success with in the past are:
Host a Speaker or Discussion Panel:
Another great way to get people involved is to inspire them with a great speaker, discussion panel, or public forum. A good speaker will convey enthusiasm, build a sense of community, and impart important information. There are tons of awesome speakers you can bring to campus that will inspire students to fight back against the drug war. SSDP has a speaker’s bureau, and organizations like Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) often have speakers travel to speak to SSDP chapters. If you have a chapter budget funded by your school to cover travel expenses and honoraria, you should consider planning a speaking event. If you don’t have a budget to work with, you can consider looking to your campus faculty for a speaker. Often times, professors from various departments will speak to the effects of the drug war, and won’t require honoraria or travel costs. You can have one speaker, or a panel that focuses on different perspectives from multiple speakers.
So, what is your next speaking event going to focus on?
Chapter Social or Open House
Since it’s a new semester, you most definitely have some new students (and old) on campus who don’t know about SSDP. A great way to introduce them to the wonderful work you do is to host a chapter social, or open house. Students can stop by, pick up some information, and talk to several members about what SSDP does and how they can get involved. You can do this on campus or off, but ideally you would have some drinks or snacks and set up a table with SSDP literature. Some of our chapters have hosted (hemp) ice cream socials, and other creative social events that incorporate drug policy. A less formal event is sometimes better for meeting potential new members and getting them into the SSDP fold.