Daily Egyptian

Students hope to educate and advocate with drug policy group

By Brey' Mong-Delane, @BreyMong_DE |[email protected]

Students for Sensible Drug Policy, an international organization for students who are concerned with substance abuse treatment and its effect on communities, has come to SIU.

The university’s chapter, which was created this summer, will focus on educating students on health and legal issues related to drug use.

Nicole Tabor, a graduate student in rehabilitation counseling from Libertyville, decided to start a group at SIU after attending the Southern Illinois Drug Awareness Conference at John A. Logan College in April.

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“From what I see, SIU is kind of a party school,” she said. “Alcohol use is one of the things I’d like to educate people about. People might not know that alcohol in combination with other things is really dangerous. People are like, ‘Take a Xanax’ and all the rap songs talk all about it, but if you do what the rap songs say, you can put your life at risk.” 

SIU Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Rae Goldsmith said the university is different than it used to be, whether or not the reputation of being a party school was ever warranted.

“The term ‘party school’ doesn’t define SIU,” she said. “Like campuses across the country, we welcome all efforts to build awareness of the risks of alcohol and drug abuse and the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

The organization also encourages students to participate in political processes, according to its mission statement. 

Tabor said she hopes the university’s group will advocate to lawmakers for state funding to support drug abuse treatment. As Illinois nears a year without a budget, state-funded treatment providers haven’t received any state money for this fiscal year.

“As with other services providers, we are currently awaiting payment from the state for contracted services we’ve delivered for thousands of Illinoisans since the fiscal year began last July,” said Daphne Baille, the director of communications for Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities, a rehabilitative program that works to provide treatment rather than incarceration for individuals.

SSDP needs a signed petition of 10 students to become recognized by the university as an official chapter. Tabor will select one faculty member this summer to help oversee the SSDP Chapter.

“Right now, it’s myself and two of my friends. Recruiting students is the challenge, especially since it’s summertime. It’s really hard to contact students who are not here.”

More information about SSDP or how to become involved can be found at facebook.com/SIUCSSDP.

Brey Mong Delane can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3397.

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