SSDP hosts psychedelic drug lecture

Thomas Roberts, professor emeritus of educational psychology, will speak on the broad field of psychedelic drugs at a lecture hosted by Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP).

The lecture is at 8 p.m. today in Room 405 of the Holmes Student Center and will discuss cognitive enhancement, spirituality, creative problem solving, psychotherapy and other topics.

Roberts has taught an honors class on psychedelic studies at NIU for 30 years. NIU offers EPF 420H (Foundation for Psychedelic Studies) once a year and is the only university in the nation with a class of this nature.

“I take a scholarly, academic approach,” Roberts said. “It’s not about encouraging people to go out and turn on. It’s about understanding the mind and society.”

Jeremy Orbach, public relations director for SSDP, said the lecture’s topic is not often spoken about.

“It’s a unique subject matter that people seem to be interested in,” Orbach said.

SSDP Fundraising Chair Rebecca Welker said she believes the lecture will raise awareness of an unfamiliar topic and Roberts’ honors class.

“I think people are unaware of the impact these drugs have,” Welker said. “People associate these drugs with hippies, but there’s a lot more to it than that.”

Welker cites mainstream media’s largely negative portrayal of psychedelic drugs as the reason people have misconceptions about the substances.

“The lectures we have refute some of [the negativity] and provide another perspective on these substances and the potential they have for the medical community,” Welker said. “We aren’t advocating students use these, but they should at least be available for research. It’s good to look at things from both sides.”

Orbach said this is the third lecture the organization has hosted since SSDP’s creation in March 2010. The group is planning on hosting lectures every two weeks, which will focus on drug education and policy.

SSDP hosted a similar lecture last year and had a fairly large turnout, Orbach said.

“We had probably at least 40 people show up who had never had anything to do with SSDP at the last lecture, and we’re hoping to have the same impact this semester,” Orbach said.

Roberts said he is excited to speak for SSDP.

“I am available to any group on campus to talk,” Roberts said. “Everybody has a favorite topic to talk about, and this is mine.”