Friday, December 24, 2010

Spontaneous Anti-Drug War Student Activism Erupts In Northern Mexico

This holiday season ABC News reports that students at the Autonomous University of the City of Juarez (UACJ) (in its Spanish acronym) have formed a group to resist the drug war. The students are targeting corruption in the police and military, highlighting human rights abuses as part of their campaign.

One videoed episode of state violence drew the students ire: the late October police shooting of nineteen year old UACJ sociology student, Jose Dario Alvarez. Student marches against the police who shot him at the entrance to the UACJ campus have apparently drawn 200 people in the northern city, and interest from student groups at Mexico City's National Autonomous University (UNAM).

The ABC reporter describes a student movement interested in human rights and social justice. The focus on the latter can be identified by community projects, such as Pistolitas por Libros, or Pistols for Books. The way these students see the intersection of different issues and the drug war, is characteristic of student movements throughout the hemisphere, including Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

The Student Association has not confined its activities to political activism. Members teamed up with medical and dentistry students doing a Health Brigade event and implemented Pistolitas por Libros, the first Pistols for Books campaign. While adults in the neighborhood sought free medical advice from the students, their children could exchange toy guns and weapons for books, games and other, more peaceful, items. The organization said between 120 and 150 participated.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Congressman makes historic speech in marijuana legalization fight

Believe it or not, two weeks ago marked the first time in history that a member of Congress specifically called for taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol — from the floor of the House of Representatives!

During debate over a terrible pro-drug war resolution that was cynically fast-tracked through the House by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the lone member to rise in opposition was Congressman Jared Polis from Colorado. During his speech, he said "by eliminating the failed policy of prohibition with regard to marijuana and replacing it with regulation, we can cut the money to the criminal gangs by half."

Of course, Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) has consistently supported ending drug prohibition over the years, but my searches failed to turn up a specific call for regulating marijuana from the well of the House. Rep. Paul was one of the handful of members who voted against the resolution that Polis opposed. (I welcome any corrections from nerds who are good at searching the Congressional Record if I am wrong about Dr. Paul previously making a similar speech from the House floor.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chapter Leader of the Week: Nicholas Davies

Nick (middle) with fellow Colorado SSDP
members Kara Janowsky and Chris Pezza returning
from the 2010 SSDP Conference in San Francisco.
Name: Nicholas Davies
Chapter: Front Range Community College
Location: Longmont, Colorado 

When did you first get involved with SSDP and why do you like being part of the organization? 

I was first introduced to SSDP during my second year in Student Government when I was fortunate enough to meet a fellow by the name of Christopher Pezza. After a few legislative sessions Chris and I found that we had similar thoughts on many issues regarding drug policy and the way it should be approached (not to forget a liking for "The Talking Heads")
At the time he was also founding our current chapter at the college and was in need of help getting it going. I agreed one day to attend a meeting and from then on forth have considered myself a drug policy activist. What I like about being part of this organization is that it gives a forum for like minded people to pool their ideas and knowledge to create a positive impact on their local communities. 

What issues are important for the Front Range Community College SSDP chapter? 

At this point one of our biggest issues at hand is changing the data; It's difficult to be taken seriously as a student's organization with out being able to own up to one's "student responsibilities."

Do you have any events/campaigns planned? 

One of our chapter mantras is to always have at least one event planned. We just finished the final week of the semester with an event where we reserved our community room for students looking for a quiet place to study. Along with the quiet study space we were given tea from the Environmental Club to provide students with a nice perk to their day. This event being is a part of our "A's before J's" campaign encouraging students and current SSDP members (and all students) to prioritize their grades before their recreational use of drugs including alcohol.

What has been your favorite experience with SSDP?

Knowing that every action we take gets us closer to a better America. That experience in itself is invaluable.

Do you have any advice for other chapter leaders? 

Know that in the action of being a student; That role, when completed with pride, will only lead to gains for our goals, and falter those whom criticize our intent.

That and go to new student orientation. Have a table. Something. It is a way to get members hooked at the very get go of the semester. If anything do it just to inform.