The Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) hosted a panel on Aug. 28 to discuss the potential dangers associated with college “party culture” and give students valuable information on harm-reduction techniques and their rights as citizens and students.
“The panel’s goal was to provide a safe and non-judgmental environment where discussion about taboo topics could take place,” said third-year Mariana Bonilla, a member of SSDP since its conception three years ago.
In providing a safe space where students, many of them first-years, could openly discuss their concerns and voice their opinions about party culture on NCF’s campus, SSDP has started a conversation that some believe the administration and authorities have shied away from. By informing students about the risks associated with the use and abuse of substances (including alcohol), the SSDP thinks tragedies can be more easily avoided.
On an international scale SSDP’s main goal is to end the war on drugs which, according to their website, it believes is “failing our generation and our society.” SSDP is involved with inciting change at a national level through lobbying and attending conferences on drug use and policy around the world, including contact with influential politicians, scientists and psychologists who are on the forefront of cutting-edge drug policy issues. SSDP also considers the role of law-enforcement and the legal system in the war on drugs and the effects harsh punitive action can have on students’ lives.
On a campus-wide level, this means focusing on harm-reduction techniques through peer-support. One major change created by SSDP was the addition of a medical amnesty clause to the New College Student Code of Conduct. The clause gives limited immunity from being prosecuted by the school for drug possession if they seek medical attention for someone suffering from an overdose. This is in addition to the 911 Good Samaritan Act, which removes the risk of being prosecuted by law enforcement, and has the potential to prevent more serious injuries associated with overdosing, including death.
(I am still waiting on email responses from Mariana)