Friday, April 09, 2010

UConn Students Stand Up To Administration

Sam Tracy, incoming President of the University of Connecticut SSDP chapter had a column published in The Daily Campus, "Administration should focus on Spring Weekend safety" outlining a proposal that addresses varied concerns about the harms associated with "Spring Weekend", an annual event notorious for being two days of rowdy drinking and partying.
Representatives of USG, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Idealists United, LAVA, the Residence Hall Association, ConnPIRG, Greek Life and many others all took part in this coalition. Working for months with other groups, including the owners of Carriage and Celeron, the mayor of Mansfield, Mansfield’s state representative and even UConn and State Police, they put together a lengthy proposal and submitted it to the UConn administration.

The proposal included bringing in food vendors as well as musical performances to Spring Weekend, in order to mitigate the dangers associated with the event. The administration promptly said that they would block any of USG’s funds from going toward the plan. They even went so far as to say that UConn cannot take action in relation to Spring Weekend, as it would be the same as endorsing it.
The column goes on to describe some pretty sensible reasons as to why this proposal would have been a smart:
A main reason that violence breaks out, from throwing glass bottles to destroying property, is because there really is nothing to do at Spring Weekend. You get a bunch of drunk people in a big crowd, and boredom combined with relative anonymity will lead to bad decisions. Providing a focal point for these people, such as a free concert or other kind of show, would give them something to do instead of flipping over cars.

To top things off, this plan would not cost the University a dime, and would actually save money. It would do this by decreasing the police forces employed for the weekend, while hiring a group of private security personnel, who are veteran workers of countless music festivals. All police are payed overtime for Spring Weekend, at $86 an hour, adding up to $133,000 for the whole weekend. The private security would be a fraction of the cost, actually saving the University about $40,000.
Reducing the harms associated with drug use and abuse is something that many people care about. It's our job as SSDPers to reach out to them and make the connection, and determine how we can best work together to achieve common goals. SSDP at UConn is one of our strongest chapters in our network. Eight students from their school were able to secure student group funding to come out to San Francisco for our 11th Annual International Conference in March, they even volunteered several days prior to the conference during their spring break.

I can easily see why they are so successful at building strong campus coalitions such as this one. They're honest and sincere activists to the core. And drug policy isn't the only issue they are passionate about. Having SSDP chapter members with diverse backgrounds and interests is the best way to build solid relationships with other student and community groups.

Jason Ortiz, recently elected to our board of directors, has been instrumental in these efforts, as well as Katlin Tyrol, former UConn SSDP president, and Sam Tracy will be leading the chapter as their newly elected president for the 2010-2011 school year.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Cops and Campuses Against Cartels

Last year over 50 SSDP chapters participated in our national day of action on Cinco de Mayo by drawing attention to the drug war violence occurring in Mexico. We protested the fact that in just over one year, more than 7,500 people had been killed in Mexico. Needless to say, prohibition hasn't gone away and today, more than 18,000 people have been murdered in Mexico.

So SSDP will be organizing a 2010 Day of Action and we hope that even more SSDP chapters will participate and our voices will be louder than last year. Go to for more information.

SSDP chapters will be drawing attention to this issue by doing things like:

  • Demonstrating on campus with Mexican flags or balloons
  • Hosting a speaker from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
  • Handing out informational flyers
  • Collecting petition signatures at   
Excited? Get started!

Get your chapter signed up to participate in the day of action ASAP!

Check Out the Resources
Here's a page of resources that you can download and use:
The page includes an editable press release that you can send to local news outlets, Mexican flags you can print out, an action plan, and more to come soon.

Sign the Petition During your demonstration you can set up a laptop and get people to sign the petition.

Here's the Facebook event. RSVP and invite your friends!

There's more to come very soon...

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

FSU SSDP Pushes for Good Samaritan Policy

Check out this great media coverage of the Florida State University SSDP chapter campaigning for their Good Samaritan Policy on campus. The chapter spent a day last week tabling in support of their campaign and used red balloons to represent students that die from alcohol related incidents on college campuses each year. 

FSU chapter members gave some great quotes. Being on camera isn't always easy but it's clear that they were prepared with talking points. 
"Drugs really are a medical problem and not a criminal justice problem. We feel that by enacting sensible policies that reflect the fact that people are going to use drugs but reduce the harms associated with drug usage, we feel that those are the best policies," said John Mola, Students For Sensible Drug Policy. 

"A majority of students, including us, aren't aware of what the punishments are already. So I feel like greater education is always a plus and this policy in particular would help that in addition to creating a nice safety net," added Carson Zimmer, Students For Sensible Drug Policy.  

"It's really nice to just have that network behind us. we're in constant communication with national SSCP and other chapters that have been successful, just to get ideas from them," said Lauryn Harris, Students For Sensible Drug Policy.  
They also received amazing coverage from their student newspaper yesterday which included even more excellent talking points.

FSU SSDP is on their way to changing a policy on their campus. This is exactly the type of work SSDP chapters should be engaged in. If your chapter isn't currently running a campaign visit our campaigns page for ideas and resources to help you bring positive change to your community. 

Red State Update: Legalize Drugs, Save Mexico

Sarah Palin Offered $25k to Speak at Marijuana Legalization Event

Sarah Palin. She's everyone's favorite oil drilling, aerial wolf hunting,  "glad we chose life" (but we still aren't pro-choice) former Governor and she's just been offered $25,000 by Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws to speak at an upcoming event and endorse the NVSML's 2012 ballot initiative aiming to tax and regulate.

The offer comes after Palin was announced as a keynote speaker at the the national convention for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.  NVSML's campaign manager Dave Schwartz figures that Palin should feel comfortable endorsing marijuana legalization if she has no problem endorsing alcohol sales.
"It makes no sense to keep marijuana in the criminal market while a former vice-presidential candidate celebrates the alcohol industry," Schwartz said. "We want legitimate businesspeople in Nevada to benefit from the sales of marijuana, and we want adults to be free to choose whichever substance they prefer --marijuana or alcohol -- when they relax after work."
Despite the fact that marijuana use causes less harm than alcohol, I don't see Sarah Palin endorsing marijuana legalization for a measly $25k. Back in 2008 the RNC was dropping $150,000 on her clothes!

If you're in Nevada, be sure to volunteer with NVSML and help get a legalization initiative on the ballot for 2012. If you happen to be a student in Nevada - please contact SSDP about starting a chapter at your school.

Monday, April 05, 2010

SSDP and SAFER Day of Action

On April 1, SSDP chapters all over the country participated in the SAFER National Day of Action by sparking debate on their campuses about marijuana legalization and promoting the Emerald Initiative. The Emerald Initiative is SAFER’s response to the Amethyst Initiative, a call by more than 130 university presidents and chancellors to debate whether lowering the legal drinking age to 18 could reduce dangerous college drinking. It calls on college presidents and chancellors – particularly those who have signed on to the Amethyst Initiative and those at schools where SAFER Referendums have been adopted – to "support an informed and dispassionate public debate" on whether allowing college students to use marijuana more freely could result in fewer students engaging in dangerous drinking.

Check out some of the media coverage of SSDP chapters in action: 

Washington Post
University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee
University of Vermont
Front Range Community College
University of Virginia
University of Oregon - Eugene 
University of Kansas

Some chapters were unable to participate because of Spring Break but are planning to join the effort this Thursday, April 8. If your chapter would like to participate please sign up