Calling on Students to Raise Your Voices for Repeal of the HEA Drug Provision 10/4/02

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With the new school year already upon us, and Congressional elections just over a month away, we at the Drug Reform Coordination Network are writing to ask you to help turn up the heat on the student-led campaign to repeal the Higher Education Act's drug provision.

During the 2001-2002 school year, more than 47,700 students were denied access to federal college aid because of drug convictions, loans, grants, even work-study programs. This number doesn't account for people who didn't bother applying because they assumed they would be ineligible. The current academic year, the third in which the drug provision is in force and the second in which it is being fully enforced, is expected to see just as many young people forced out of school or they or their families plunged into financial hardship because of the HEA drug provision.

In 2002-2003, there is more hope than ever. A bill in the US House of Representatives to repeal the drug provision, H.R. 786, has 67 cosponsors, and ten members of Congress spoke at our press conference last May to call for the provision's full repeal, a stunning success. And Students for Sensible Drug Policy now stretches across more than 200 campuses, with hundreds more in the works. Your voice is again needed, to continue to move this issue forward and repeal the provision in 2003 or 2004 when the Higher Education Act is reauthorized by Congress.

We have just finished updating our HEA activist packet, so please visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com to learn about the issue, download the packet, and to sign our petition telling you want them to remove the drug war from education and repeal the anti-drug financial aid ban. When you're done, please call your US Representative on the phone to make an even stronger impact -- you can call them via the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or visit http://www.house.gov to look up their direct numbers.

Students, visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com/students.html to find out how to get involved with the campaign on your campus -- more than 90 student governments so far have endorsed our resolution calling for repeal of the drug provision. If you're already at work on this, please write us at [email protected] and let us know what's happening. Also, visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com/download.html for an online copy of the activist packet. Leave your e-mail address if you want to receive occasional updates on the HEA campaign.

Please forward this alert to your friends or use the tell-a-friend form on RaiseYourVoice.com, and please consider making a donation -- large or small -- to keep this and other DRCNet efforts moving forward at full speed. Visit http://www.drcnet.org/donate/ to help, or mail your check or money order to DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. (Contact us for instruction if you wish to make a donation of stock.)

Again, visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com to write to Congress and get involved in the campaign! In the meantime, here are some more reasons why the HEA drug provision is wrong:

  • The vast majority of Americans convicted of drug offenses are convicted of nonviolent, low-level possession.
  • The HEA drug provision represents a penalty levied only on the poor and the working class; wealthier students will not have the doors of college closed to them for want to financial aid.
  • Judges already have the power to rescind financial aid eligibility as individual cases warrant. The HEA drug provision removes that discretion.
  • The HEA drug provision has a disparate impact on different races. African Americans, for example, comprise 13% of the population and 13% of all drug users, but account for more than 55% of those convicted of drug possession charges.
  • No other class of offenses, not even rape or murder, carries automatic loss of financial aid eligibility.
  • Access to a college education is the surest route to the mainstream economy and a crime-free life.

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