News | Student Life

Following a semester of internal conflict, Students for Sensible Drug Policy president resigns

Earlier this week, Blaine Harper, CC ’13, resigned from her post as president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy following a semester of internal conflict.

In an email to the members of SSDP Tuesday, she said, “I cannot work with people who have insisted that mediation is not an option and who have since deliberately omitted me from multiple executive board notifications, meetings, and decisions. I hope that my departure will allow them to refocus their efforts.”

An election for her position was held on Wednesday night, and Vice President Mahogany Wright, GS, ran unopposed.

The resignation follows a semester of internal debate that Harper said ultimately left her with no choice but to leave her position.

In the fall, Wright and former treasurer of the club, Ariana Hirsh, BC ’13, attempted to have Harper impeached. Although a general vote later proved to be in Harper’s favor, she said that the impeachment colored her participation in the club and her interactions with Wright.

Harper said that the disagreement and tension within the group stemmed from a misunderstanding. She said that after she sent an email earlier in the fall rallying the club to work together after it lost its room reservation for the semester, Wright replied saying that Harper was “out of line.”

Later, Harper said, her relationship with Wright and other club leaders became more tense.

“They said that they wanted to work together, but that isn’t manifested in their behavior toward me,” she said in an interview Thursday. “I think it really comes down to personal conflict. Sometimes people just don’t get along. I just want to avoid conflict.”

“It’s still unclear to me what happened,” she said. “I really don’t know. We had a mediation session and I asked, ‘What can I do?’ But they said that they had already said everything they wanted to. I wanted to do more, but there was really nothing more I could do.

“I tried to work with them, but the effort wasn’t really reciprocated,” she said.

Despite the impeachment attempt and the personal conflict within the group, Wright said that Harper’s resignation was unexpected.

“Our last meeting of the semester was engaging, and there was no tension,” she said. “This was definitely surprising.”

“Moving forward is just our primary goal,” she said.

Katharine Celentano, GS and former president of the club, said that she also found the tenor of the last meeting positive and did not know in advance that Harper was resigning.

“Everyone after that meeting was committed to moving forward,” she said. “We were really happy after that meeting, so this was surprising and upsetting.”

“There was absolutely no pressure from within the group for her to resign,” Celentano added.

During the election Wednesday evening, Celentano and Wright both said that they hoped Harper would stay a member of the club.

But Harper said that while she will continue to advocate for drug policy reform, she has no plans of returning to SSDP.

“We’re excited to move forward and do what we do best, which is to enforce good, sensible drug policy,” Celentano said. “This is not a place of conflict. Internal conflict pales in comparison to the responsibilities we’re charged with as a student organization.”

tracey.wang@columbiaspectator.com | @TraceyDWang

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Anonymous posted on

Wasn't Mahogany Wright the same person who flipped out and resigned from GSSC? She sounds like she'd be a nightmare to work with.

http://spectrum.columbiaspecta...

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Anonymous posted on

Based off that article, looks like she resigned due to an ethical issue with that council. That takes guts to stand up for something. This Blaine chick sounds crazy and seems to be the one who flipped out and resigned - all after being nearly impeached!

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Anonymous posted on

Yo this Mahogany chick sounds crazy. Can you give more info on why they tried to impeach Harper?!?

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Anonymous posted on

Don't know about her as I didn't see her much but multiple people were in favor of Blaine Harper’s impeachment. Ariana Hirsch resigned after it barely didn’t go through citing that Blaine was horrible to work with. Blaine even sent nasty emails to Aaron Houston, the executive director of SSDP international blasting him about an interview he did. What student has the audacity to do that to a person that is paid to run the organization on an international level? She refused to pull up the emails in the impeachment meeting tho. She's jealous of Katharine Celentano and pretty much alienated her from the group even though she ran it last year and is currently on national staff and could help a lot. Blaine had numerous complaints from people outside of the Columbia community on emails. Blaine's excuse was that her responses were perfunctory (if she bothered to respond at all). From what is known, she was asked to step down quietly by the executive board members but refused thus causing the impeachment process to commence. Now after wasting everyone’s time and energy, she quits and sends out an irrational email to the entire email list of the group since its inception? Blaine is seriously lacking in judgment and many are relieved to see her go.

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Anonymous posted on

Hate to be that guy, but impeachment is not an outcome, it's a process. Sometimes impeachment leads to removal and sometimes it does not. It sounds like the former president was impeached but not removed. Sorry this is just a pet peeve of mine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I...

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Anonymous posted on

So this Blaine Harper fights impeachment wasting everyone's time and energy only to flip out and quit? She spams hundreds of people's email with that whiny resignation message linked above in an apparent attempt to try and sabotage the group? She sounds very immature and unfit to lead.

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