ACCESS TO HARM REDUCTION: CREATING SAFER CAMPUSES AND COMMUNITIES
Many campuses and communities approach drug use with a “just say no” attitude, believing that shutting down conversations around alcohol and other drugs will be sufficient to reduce harm. Instead, the lack of information and punitive policies has exacerbated the harm related to drug use. Young people may overdose, become injured, or have very negative experiences when using substances because of a lack of drug education. Others don’t call for help when their friend has overdosed, because they are unfamiliar with their school’s Good Samaritan Policy and are worried about getting in trouble. Still others could easily save a life if they were trained in how to administer naloxone. All of these things are examples of harm reduction policies and programs that can create safer campuses and communities.
CAMPUS CHANGE CAMPAIGN: BE THE SENSIBLE VOICE ON YOUR CAMPUS
We all know that the War on Drugs is really a war on people, especially students. Whether it is being suspended for a small amount of cannabis, being harassed by campus police, or not feeling empowered to call for help during a drug-related emergency, many SSDP members first witnessed the harms caused by the drug war on their college campuses. As students on college campuses, SSDPers have a unique opportunity to take the lead in formulating and enacting alternative drug policies.
SSDP was founded on the principle that no one should be denied fair access to an education because of drug use, and policy reform at the campus level remains a key part of our work as a network. While there are plenty of organizations out there working to end the War on Drugs at municipal, state, federal, and international levels, none have been as successful as SSDP at changing drug policies on college campuses. SSDP is the place students can go to when they feel they have no other supporters on campus, and serves an essential function as a safe space to openly talk about policies around drug without stigma. We provide both an opposing voice to the status quo that many campus administrations prop up and a platform for fostering new ideas around how to make college campuses safer for people who use drugs.
This toolkit will go over some of the most common problems our members see with campus drug policies and offer some ideas for how to start engaging campus stakeholders on these issues. It will also provide some resources for getting campaigns up and running. As always, an SSDPers best resource is going to be their Outreach Coordinator, so please be sure to coordinate with them as well as your chapter develops a plan to change campus drug policies.
Colleges and universities are beholden to protecting students health and safety and are able to most effectively do so through proven, evidence-based harm reduction and public health strategies. Colleges — places where evidence and inquiry should be valued most highly — should adopt policies which do not punish students with threats of eviction, suspension, or other harsh measures which undermine students’ ability to access education. Such measures might include:
- 911 Good Samaritan Policies
- Prison Divestment
- Dorm Eviction
- Judicial Process on Campus
- Local Law Enforcement Involvement in Enforcing Campus Policies
- Marijuana/Alcohol Equalization
- Off-Campus Jurisdiction for Drug Policies
- Access to Medical Marijuana on Campus
- Parental Notification Policies
- Safe Ride Programs
- Access to Treatment & Prevention Services
SSDP has developed a Campus Policy Gradebook that grades schools on a comprehensive rubric. SSDP members are encouraged to submit updates to their school’s grades every year to demonstrate the progress (or lack of progress) their campus is making on implementing safer policies on drugs.