Despite past resistance, KSC Students for Sensible Drug Policy continues to make progress with its Good Samaritan Policy Petition, with over 750 signatures.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy may still be in its first year, but SSDP members said they’re already making strides towards change and hope to enact the Good Samaritan Policy by the end of the semester.
Jacob Russell, founder and president of SSDP said, “SSDP is simple, sensible, and important. We want people to understand that the members of SSDP don’t condemn or condone drug or alcohol use, we just want to change harmful and ineffective policies.”
Russell explained the resistance SSDP experienced in the past when authorities power washed Chalk the Police. “It was an exercise of our free speech. We wrote facts quotes and statistics about the drug war down Appian Way and at the police station.”
Russell explained how KSC grounds crews washed away their work by the next morning, “It was discriminatory and repressive of our free speech. What made me mad is that we’re just as recognized as a part of KSC as other clubs and groups, and about a week after Chalk the Police, KSC Pride did a similar Chalk Talk and the school let that fade naturally.”
Russell said despite such resistance, SSDP continues to gain more signatures on their GSP petition and make future plans for a “Marijuana and Alcohol Equalization Policy” and a “Campus Change Campaign”.
A Good Samaritan Policy is based on the idea that calling 9-11 for help shouldn’t be a crime when it comes to emergencies involving drugs or alcohol.
A Good Samaritan Policy, also known as a Medical Amnesty Policy, is defined by SSDP as “a life-saving measure that enables people to make responsible decisions by shielding them from punishment when they call for medical help during an emergency relating to alcohol or other drugs.” In addition, it also states that, “Since the threat of punitive policies can often cause hesitation during confusing and stressful party situations, the existence of a Good Samaritan Policy is essential to ensuring that people are able to stay alive and receive help when they are in trouble.”
Russell said, “The GSP is not a get-out-of-jail-free card by any means, but it’s an incentive to call 9-11 if there is a medical emergency. In addition, Russell said, “The GSP eliminates punitive punishments or sanctions from the state or school, but many policies still may require the affected student to attend meetings or treatments afterwards.”
Russell explained how important this policy is because of how equally important it is to call for help.
“Someone’s life is far more important than losing housing or getting in trouble some other way. There are so many overdose deaths every year that could be prevented if people weren’t afraid to call 9-11 in the first place.”
Philip Bergeron, treasurer of SSDP and president of the first SSDP high school chapter in Nashua, N.H. said, “I just don’t think there should be a gray area. If your friends aren’t responding to you and they need help it should be simple, just get them help without having to hesitate or worry about being punished.”
Stephanie Caravedo, vice president of SSDP said, “I feel having a GSP is important because a lot of times people should be going to the hospital and they don’t.
I feel in order to change and grow up people need to have had this important moment happen in their lives that would allow them to look back on it and in turn help them to make better decisions the next time and be able to learn from it.”
Although SSDP has received backlash in the past, Russell said it isn’t going to stop them from pushing new policies.
“We’ve received negative reactions about The Good Samaritan Policy in the past because I don’t think they fully understand our message.”
Russell explained how authorities criticized the policy because it may be sending out the wrong message.
“It’s just hard to explain when people criticize the policy with a zero-tolerance mentality,” he said, “they need to understand that with that type of prohibition, the cliché of saying just don’t do it won’t always work because regardless, dangerous situations are going to continue to arise on a college campus.”
Russell continued, “The message we want to send to the students is that we care more about them being alive then punishing them, because to turn kids from drinking should never come in the form of another student’s obituary.”
“We simply want to be able to save kids who happened to make the poor choice to drink,” Russell said.
Russell said their next steps include making informational presentations to not only get more signatures but also to create awareness about GSP, the Drug War and Know Your Rights information. “Soon enough we’ll present the GSP to the Alcohol and Other Drugs Committee and Student Assembly.”
For more information on SSDP and its causes, contact President Jake Russell and Vice President Stephanie Caravedo.
Karen Forster can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org