NIU scores high on drug policy reform


By Ross Hettel

NIU was named the number one college for drug policy activism in the nation, according to the October 2011 issue of High Times.

High Times is a magazine focusing on marijuana and the surrounding lifestyle and drug policy issues. The ranking was given mainly due to NIU’s Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter (SSDP).

“The NIU SSDP chapter almost disappeared this year … when school administrators claimed the organization ‘political’ and therefore ineligible to receive funding or even official recognition,” the article stated.

Jeremy Orbach, founder and acting president of SSDP, said he was unsure of how the ranking would be received by the university and the DeKalb community.

“I would like to think it will be well received,” Orbach said. “But I also know how conservative this town is and how conservative some of the administrators are.”

The article stated the NIU SSDP chapter was awarded the Grace Under Fire Award by High Times in recognition for its efforts in becoming an officially recognized group.

Orbach said the organization was banned from campus twice: once when they didn’t comply with the Student Association’s request to reclassify as a political organization and again when SSDP was officially denied recognition by the Student Association Senate.

SA President Elliot Echols said he felt the timing is interesting with regards to NIU’s new drug and code of conduct policy.

“NIU is a great place to learn and grow as an individual and that is what we here at the Student Association and the campus as a whole need to focus on,” Echols said in an email. “In the meantime, I am in full support of these new policies here at NIU so that we can take our school back from the perceived violence and drug problem.”

Nick Boury sophomore liberal arts major, said he felt the ranking was a good thing, as NIU has always been more progressive and leading in a new direction.