Wednesday, January 27, 2010

UMD SSDP Starts Semester Off Strong

SSDP's rock star chapter at the University of Maryland - College Park started the semester off strong by hosting a screening of the 2004 ABC News special, Ecstasy Rising. They even managed to pull off a Q&A via Skype with MAPS Executive Director Rick Doblin!

This was an impressive event that turned out over 50 students and showcases the misinformation spread about MDMA by NIDA. Ecstasy Rising documents the drug's rise in popularity in the U.S. and discusses the real risks of MDMA use while explaining that the government's war on ecstasy was based on a study that didn't even involve MDMA and "accidently" used meth. Remember hearing that ecstasy puts holes in your brain? That's the study.

The UMD chapter is no stranger to media coverage, especially by their on campus newspaper: The Diamondback. The event, titled Ecstasy: The Good, The Bad, and The Truth was covered by The Diamondback and featured some great quotes from chapter leader and SSDP board member Irina Alexander:
“Nobody really knows where to go for reliable drug information,” said junior criminology and criminal justice major Irina Alexander, president of SSDP. “We’re not encouraging ecstasy use in any way, but we’re trying to give students the resources necessary to make decisions based on fact.”
I think this serves as a great example of how to put on a successful event. UMD SSDP covered all the bases and by working together as a team, made it clear that every SSDP chapter should and could be doing the same amazing work as UMD.

Here's some tips on putting together a great event:

1.) Decide on an event with your chapter (movie screening, LEAP speaker, etc...)
2.) Reserve a room on campus
3.) Create a Facebook Event associated with your chapter's Facebook group (if your chapter doesn't have a facebook group create one immediately and ask your SSDP Outreach Director for help if you need it!)
4.) Create posters and put them up in high-traffic areas on campus
5.) Ask your faculty advisor or other teachers to offer extra-credit to students that attend the event.
6.) Send a press-release to your school's paper and local media. (It's easier than you think!)
7.) Ask other groups on campus to co-sponsor.
8.) Provide refreshments like coffee, soda, and pizza.
9.) Table on campus the day of the event and hand out 1/4 sheet flyers.
10.) Be prepared. Bring email sign up sheets, pens and SSDP materials and encourage people to join SSDP.
11.) Have fun!

All of those steps together (minus tabling) probably take about 1.5 hrs of time! Less if you can delegate responsibilities effectively.

Sure, I left out some aspects like getting funding from your school, but that should never hold you back. Screening documentaries will often not cost your chapter a dime and can create a large turnout if publicized right. Plus,  I don't want to spoil everything you will learn about organizing events at SSDP's 11th Annual International Conference!

So come on SSDP! Who's gonna out do UMD?

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