Monday, November 21, 2005

Since U Been Gone

But since you been gone
I can breathe for the first time
I'm so movin' on, yeah yeah
Thanks to you, now I get what I want
Since you been gone

It's been one week since the last of the SSDPers left Long Beach, CA for their homes across the country. I've had a difficult time trying to sum up my feelings on the conference and SSDP at this stage of its growth. See, for all the time I've been involved in SSDP, since 1999 -- as a student in a chapter at UW-Madison, as a student and non-student member of the Board of Directors and now on the staff -- this is the first time I've really looked at SSDP through any sort of historical lens.

In it's 7th year, SSDP has gone from its embryonic stage, through an enormous period of growth, and settled back down to where it is now -- at key strategic point in its mission and development. This year, there were so many new faces amongst the grizzled old SSDP veterans. I can honestly say, from where I stand SSDP is in the best shape I have seen it in years.

If the students who made this their first conference continue their involvement, on campus and in their communities, both at home and at school, then I have no doubt the connections you started to make in Long Beach, will last you for the rest of your life. That’s a scary thought for some, but a comfort for others. And it doesn’t require you to stay a drug policy reformer full-time. SSDP students go on to successful careers in every field imaginable. And it’s our work in SSDP and the contacts we’ve made at conferences, in and out of SSDP, that launches our careers.

We have a lot of work to do, we always have and for the foreseeable future, we always will. The National Staff will continue to serve you, our chapters, to the best of our abilities. And we will seek to push and prod you, to stretch yourselves beyond what you thought you'd ever be able to do, because we know from past experiences, that you can do it and you will be successful.

We are charged with a mission, to educate and to serve, to involve ourselves in the political process and speak out for the unspoken for -- the youth -- who too often face the collateral consequences of this war on drugs waged primarily in our name. We give a voice to the voiceless, in our schools and throughout the country, and based on what I saw at our conference, that voice is strong and getting stronger.

So thank you to everyone who made the trip to Long Beach for SSDP’s 7th Annual Conference. Thank you for making it important enough for you to miss school, to put the rest of your life on hold, so that you can be a part of the most dynamic, influential, powerful and unique Student Drug Policy Reform Organization in America.

I look forward to seeing you all again at next year’s 8th Annual SSDP National Conference and at the regional conferences in the spring.

Keep up all your hard work!

Peace and Love,
Dan Goldman
Director of Outreach and Alumni
Students for Sensible Drug Policy

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