Student club attempts to educate, reform policies

Do you condone or condemn drug use?

If you do not know or want the option of saying neither, you might be interested in Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

In February, Guilford College juniors Chris Honein, Jade Glore and Francesca Benedetto co-founded a SSDP chapter on campus to increase discussion of drug policy. They have been hosting regular meetings where they watch videos about drug policy and discuss the goals of their Guilford chapter.

“Right now, we are just trying to build awareness about the war on drugs and how it harms all of us,” said Honein. “We want to foster some frank discussion about drug policy in hopes that our generation can reverse some of the disastrous consequences of the drug war.”

SSDP’s goal, according to its mission statement, is to “mobilize and empower 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, particularly those that directly harm students and youth.”

We want to foster some frank discussion about drug policy in hopes that our generation can reverse some of the disastrous consequences of the drug war.”

— Chris Honein, junior & co-founder of SSDP

Whether or not the Guilford College SSDP chapter will impact the school’s own drug policies has yet to be seen. Currently, students that have a single drug violation receive two points in the conduct system and are referred to the personal growth group in the counseling center. A second violation results in suspension for at least one semester.

“We work with a variety of campus and community partners to support any drug-related emergencies but do not have facilities on campus for those types of situations,” said Todd Clark, vice president for student affairs and dean of students.

North Carolina does have helpful prevention laws in place such as syringe-exchange policies, the 911 Good Samaritan Law and legal methadone access. According to the Greensboro Police Department, there were 1,356 arrests pertaining to drugs in 2015.

“Police prefer prevention efforts,” GPD Public Information Officer Susan Danielsen told The Guilfordian. “We encourage people with addiction to get the medical care and support to live healthy lives.”

The Guilford SSDP chapter will work to inform students of different forms of drug policy. It could increase discussion of policy change and facilitate incorporation on campus among students.

“This organization is as relevant to Guilford as any (other) political activism (organizations),” said Honein. “As a liberal arts institution, we strive to face, immerse ourselves in, wrestle with and struggle against all sorts of ideas and topics. We want to take advantage of the atmosphere at Guilford to bring students’ attention to the massive human rights abuse that is the war on drugs and mass incarceration.”

Students for Sensible Drug Policy is in the process of applying for a table at Serendipity to hand out safety information, condoms, “I Don’t  Consent To Search” cards, water, henna, hula hoops and other such items. They will continue to try and expand their membership and encourage any students interested to attend a meeting.