Wednesday, December 08, 2010

SSDP responds to "Operation Ivy League" drug arrests at Columbia University [PRESS RELEASE]

CONTACT: Stacia Cosner, SSDP Outreach Director - 410-299-3433 or
Katharine Celentano, Columbia University SSDP - 914-420-2525 or

NYPD Charges 5 Columbia University students in “Operation Ivy League”
SSDP: Arrests Will Not Reduce Drug Use, But Will Ruin Students’ Lives

NEW YORK, NY. – An aggressive NYPD raid of the students’ school residences was conducted Tuesday morning with students reporting dozens of police cars, dogs, and battering rams surrounding the fraternity houses some of the students were affiliated with. Five students were arrested & charged with drug distribution charges, but one student group on campus says the drug bust is unlikely to have any effect on drug use or availability at the Ivy League school.

“The real problems related to drug use that desperately need to be addressed, such as youth use and addiction, take a backseat to enforcing prohibition”, said Katharine Celentano, a student leader of the group Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) at Columbia. “We certainly do not condone the illegal activities of the students who were arrested, but the reality is that drugs are still here, and this is a problem we can't arrest our way out of."

Stacia Cosner, a national staff member with SSDP adds "such pervasive drug war strategies like those employed Tuesday waste police resources and tax payer dollars and have no clear effect on drug use or availability and could actually make drug problems worse for students who now face scarring experiences within the criminal justice system and enormous barriers to education and career opportunities.” Cosner adds, “and the once promising trajectory for these five young lives with great potential, as Ivy League graduates will be thwarted by these dramatically negative results of a drug conviction.”

Celentano says “continuing such draconian policies will keep drug law violations strictly in the hands of criminal justice, while the public health aspect of drug use is left unaddressed.” She explains, “as long as police resources are being used to enforce strict drug laws, while being diverted from protecting victims from violent crime -- our campus community will continue to bear the social and economic consequences of these realities.”

SSDP emphasizes that mitigating harms associated with campus drug use using the iron fist of law enforcement is not the answer to the question of how to address youth drug use.

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Students for Sensible Drug Policy is an international grassroots network of students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on our communities, but who also know that the War on Drugs is failing our generation and our society. SSDP mobilizes and empowers young people to participate in the political process, pushing for sensible policies to achieve a safer and more just future, while fighting back against counterproductive Drug War policies, particularly those that directly harm students and youth.

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