Photo: from left to right, Samantha Wyler ’12, Robert Hofmann ’16, and Rachel Wissner ’11. Credit: Mariah Gaither ’16.
This blog post is by Samantha Wyler ‘12 and is part of a series written by SSDP Alumni for #SSDPAlumni Week. Join today!
There are many reasons why SSDP is such a special organization, it’s hard for me to think of how to begin. I joined SSDP my freshman year of college at SUNY New Paltz in 2012. The first thing that struck me about this organization was that we talked about taboo issues that most other campus organizations wouldn’t touch. SSDP has showed continued support for the safety of people who use drugs, through harm reduction conversations, as well as support of safe consumption facilities. My first year of SSDP, marijuana became legal in both Colorado and Washington state. I am proud to say not only was my chapter active in the national phonebanks SSDP ran in 2012, 2014, and 2016, in which we called voters to inform them of the ballot initiatives, but that we also had important conversations around record expungement. To this day I have yet to have a conversation about marijuana legalization with an SSDPer that did not come with a conversation about the importance of restitution for victims of the War on Drugs. Even when Denver was voting to legalize mushrooms, I was thrilled to see SSDP alumni posting about how they won’t celebrate such a victory because single drug decriminalization does not help all who are directly impacted by the War on Drugs, it does not free people still sitting in jail for drug crimes, and because Denver did not pass the initiative to end the camping ban for those experiencing homelessness. I am glad that SSDPers are having these important conversations and that these serious issues are at the forefront of our advocacy.
SSDP has provided me with an amazing opportunity to meet like-minded people who care about the same issues. I made the majority of my friends in undergrad through SSDP. I was fortunate enough to to join another SSDP chapter at SUNY Binghamton, right after my graduation from SUNY New Paltz. It was incredible to be able to immediately find my people at a new school in which I didn’t know anyone. Now that I have earned a Master’s degree from Binghamton, I have decided to continue my Ph.D. studies at Kent State. I am grateful to know and be able to reach out to different alumni and active members of Kent’s chapter. Leaving the State University of New York school system and going far away from home to Ohio may be scary, but SSDP makes me feel as though I have extended family in so many places. I’m so glad that starting the next chapter of my life means joining another SSDP chapter.