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Ryerson student union denies application from harm-reduction club

Last Updated Sep 25, 2018 at 6:56 pm EDT

A Ryerson University student’s attempt to get a drug harm-reduction club on campus has been stalled as she and the student union are at odds.

“I don’t know why their perception seems to be that this isn’t something that students want,” said Alannah Fricker, founder of the Ryerson branch of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP).

The CSSDP is a national organization that works with students to influence harm-reduction polices, and promote drug safety and policy education. There are 18 branches on university campuses across the country.

“We should be talking about it because, just like anybody else, students use drugs,” said Fricker.

She pitched the group in an application to the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) in June. If granted status, the group would have access to up to $2,000 in grants, free room booking and participation in RSU outreach opportunities.

The application was denied, however, and is now pending an appeal in front of the union’s board of directors.

“We do not feel comfortable allowing this group to operate under the RSU moniker without a proper foundation of research and analysis of what they plan to undertake during the school year,” the union said in a letter to Fricker.

Fricker said no other groups are held to this standard.

In an email to City News, the union said it is “in full support of these initiatives and would like nothing more than to see the proliferation and knowledge sharing of safe drug usage throughout the Ryerson community.”

It said it wasn’t comfortable approving the club application without more information from the group about its events and objectives, as it would have been working with students to administer hands-on workshops with medical supplies.

The student union also wanted more information about the CSSDP itself and whether its activities would pose a legal liability.

Fricker said she’s waiting for the board meeting to officially appeal the decision. If that doesn’t work, she plans to start a petition.