Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis SSDP chapter organizes new club looks to alter national drug policies

Published: November 2, 2007
Section: News

After a year of planning, students have organized a Brandeis chapter of the nationally active group Students for a Sensible Drug Policy. Chartered by the Student Union last month, SSDP aims at promoting policy changes in the war on drugs.

SSDP does not condone or condemn drug use, explained Jonathan Sussman 11, one of the groups founders.

We see it as a personal matter. We dont want to focus on using drugs. We want to focus on the ramifications of the war on drugs. Its about an emphasis on changing drug policy, he said.

According to its website, the national SSDP organization 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.

The group claims that it 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.

I keep on seeing story after story of people being beat up by the war on drugs, and honestly is doesnt make any sense to me, said Sussman.

According to its founders, SSDP is not focusing on drug legalization, but instead aims to highlight the social and financial results of Americas drug policies, which the founders claim wastes money and unnecessarily taxes the prison system, while exacerbating racial and class divides.

People see the words drug and policy and think, legalize, legalize, legalize, said Samuel Bromberg 08, another of the groups founding members. Basically, were looking at how to have better policies in place.

Theres a racial disparity in people being punished [for drug offenses], Bromberg continued. The war on drugs is one of Americas last standing racially biased institutions.

SSDPs founders explained that the organization would like to fight against legislation such as the Higher Education Act, which prevents persons convicted of drug offenses from receiving federal aid to attend college.

Right now, however, the group is still working to get the ball rolling on programming.

Were not much in the planning phase right now, but the thinking phase, acknowledged Bromberg. SSDPs first real program, showing a film entitled The War on the War on Drugs, will take place in early November.

The group would also like to begin sponsoring forums that address drug policy issues.

In explaining the groups aims, Bromberg acknowledged that Brandeis drug policies are not a problem.

Were not trying to undermine the police, the administration, or anything, he said. Its actually an amazing campus for pushing [drug] counseling, not punishment.

Were not going to say that the SSDP way is the right way, added Bromberg.

I dont want anyone to feel were pushing it onto them. We want to instigate change, we want to be active, we want to make a difference.