Alert: HEA Reform Legislation Re-filed, Needs Your Support 3/7/03

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With the 108th Congress upon us and Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act being worked on now, 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 (http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com).

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 February of 2003, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) reintroduced his legislation to repeal the drug provision in full. Last year, the bill had garnered 67 cosponsors, and 10 members of Congress spoke at a press conference at the US Capitol organized by the DRCNet-sponsored Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform. Already, the new Frank bill, H.R. 685, has picked up 40 cosponsors, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy now stretches across more than 200 campuses, with hundreds more in the works, a formidable force organized to repeal the measure. Your help is needed to meet and exceed the support the bill had last year and to go on to get the drug provision repealed. The most likely opportunity for that is the Higher Education Act reauthorization process.

Please visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com to write Congress, learn about the issue and download our newly-updated activist packet. (Hit reload or refresh on your browser if you get a "campaign expired" message.) When you're done, please call your Representative on the phone to make an even stronger impact -- you can use 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 100 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 newly-updated activist packet. Please leave us your e-mail address so we can send you 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 instructions if you wish to donate stock.)

Again, visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com to write to Congress and get involved in the campaign! Here are some 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.
  • 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.
  • Access to a college education is the surest route to the mainstream economy and a crime-free life.

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Issue #277, 3/7/03 50 Years for Stealing Videotapes? No Problem, Say Justices -- Supreme Court Upholds California Three-Strikes Law | Medical Marijuana Update: Bill Killed in New Mexico, New Ones Introduced in New York and Rhode Island | Australia: NSW Green Party Drug Platform in Tabloid Exposé Furor as Election Looms | "Seeds of Peace" Released in Brussels as Prelude to Vienna UN Conference | Medical Marijuana Supporters Demonstrate at Fundraiser for Presidential Candidate Howard Dean | Alert: HEA Reform Legislation Re-filed, Needs Your Support | Newsbrief: Swiss Lawmakers Give Okay to Continued Prescription Heroin | Newsbrief: Sweden's Drug Head Calls for Needle Exchange Programs Across Country | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Oxycontin Not So Deadly, Researchers Find | Newsbrief: California Highway Patrol Settles Racial Profiling Lawsuit | Kansas Legislators Consider "Treatment Not Jail" Bill | Newsbrief: In Surprise Move, Judge Changes Mind, Declines to Jail Oakland Cannabis Co-op Head | Newsbrief: Two Suicides Enough for One Pot Bust, Says Wisconsin Judge, Orders Probation for Son of Dead Couple | Media Scan: New York Times, The Economist, The Independent, Washington Times, Change the Climate Ads, HRC Newsletter | Drug War Vigil Film Festival Seeking Submissions | The Reformer's Calendar
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