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.”