Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) is not allowed to affiliate with OUSA. The Exec rejected their application on Thursday 18 February.
The rejection was based on a subclause in SSDP’s constitution that said that while the “social supply of drugs is discouraged”, it is not “grounds to remove a member” of the executive committee.
Critic met with SSDP founding members Brin, Sam, Tiff and Jai. OUSA had publicly voted to deny their application, but they hadn’t been notified yet, so Critic broke the news to the would-be exec. They were gutted, but “not surprised that OUSA took this position.” Sam said that he expected some trouble to arise from the subclause in question, but overall their reaction was very understanding. Critic had hoped for fireworks and was sorely disappointed by their professionalism.
“There’s a very strong reactionary position that organizations like the uni have to take when there’s ambiguity [about drug use],” said Brin. This is exactly the kind of policy that SSDP wanted to address. “What kind of policies are helpful or hurtful to student welfare?” Brin asked, “and when is it beneficial or detrimental for the Uni to take a hard stance?”
The denial by OUSA was “a helpful response, so long as it’s part of an ongoing conversation,” said Sam, adding that SSDP is happy to meet OUSA halfway to ask “hey, these are our aims in our constitution. How do we do that in a way that's acceptable for you?”
SSDP and OUSA are both committed to reducing drug-related harm amongst students. “But,” said Brin “I understand that OUSA is an organization that has liabilities” — they can’t affiliate themselves with a club that allows drugs sold by its exec members. The SSDP noted last year’s Dunedin Fire and Circus Club (DFCC) scandal, in which the OUSA-affiliated club’s exec was found to be, amongst other things, selling drugs to members, as context.
“OUSA doesn’t want another DFCC, and we don’t want to be another DFCC,” said Brin. SSDP had included this subclause “as a reaction to what happened with DFCC,” as a way of saying something along the lines of “we will not accept professional dealing, but we don’t want our exec to be forced out for giving a little weed to their mate.”
“None of us are professional dealers,” added Tiff, “we don’t want people to think that we’re the people you should go to to get drugs. We don’t deal, and if [an exec] deals, and if they’re caught dealing, they’re out.”
“There’s no need for us to be another drug-infused club,” said Brin, “we exist to be separate from the sesh and the froth.” SSDP was founded in order to “advocate and provide information on behalf of students, and to improve policies and safety,” according to their affiliation documents.
“Honestly,” said Brin, “[membership] is for nerds. It should be a little boring.”
OUSA did not comment on their decision before Critic was printed.