Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Chapter Leader of the Week: Tom Zocolo, Kent State University

Tom at the 2010 SSDP Conference
in San Francisco
Name: Tom Zocolo
Chapter: Kent State University
Position: President

What was your most exciting experience with SSDP this year? 
Hands down, the Midwestern conference was the most exciting thing to happen both personally and for our chapter at Kent. It was really a monumental planning effort that was well rewarded with both attendance and excitement from the SSDP community at large.

What issues are important for the Kent State SSDP chapter?

Right now our chapter is working towards getting a decrim bill on the  2011 ballot in Kent and other Ohio cities. We're working towards this both for the benefit and protection that such a measures will afford, and as part of a larger effort to encourage public discourse about marijuana legislation that will hopefully lead to Ohio being a medical marijuana state in 2012.  

Do you have any events planned for the this semester? 

Our chapter is planning on holding a music festival  during the spring semester entitled Folk the Drug War Fest that we will use as a platform for outreach about issues such as medical marijuana, harm reduction, and crack/cocaine disparity sentencing.

What do you like best about being part of SSDP?

 I like being a part of ssdp because there is such a tremendous amount of energy and vitality in the movement. It is refreshing to see a large group of my peers who are interested in correcting blatant civil injustice and dismantling one of the most blatantly anti-humanitarian political devices in the world. 

Do you have any advice for other chapter leaders? 

My advice for other chapter leaders: Learn to play the game. Learn how to work the bureaucracy both inside your school and within your community. We are trying to rewrite the way this monster operates and we aren't going to do it with rocks and spears. We need to be refined, professional, composed, and intelligent. We need to be inside of the system and outside of the system at the same time. If you think this sort of philosophy constitutes "selling out" you're misguided.

You need to be bigger than your dreadlocks and tie-dye. You need to be bigger than your suit jacket and your letterhead. Otherwise, you're a slave to something - whether it's the system or your anti-establishment worldview. I can submit this advice only as a humble aspirant to the ideal I put before you. But it is my most sincere hope and, I believe, the key to our collective success that we strive toward this end together.