By Jonathan Perri
It's not because we didn't win. In fact, we're quite positive we did win and that we were disqualified because Chase doesn't agree with our mission. We're boycotting Chase because they refuse to explain whether SSDP and MPP were disqualified from the contest based on the subject matter we work on.
This isn't a case of sour grapes. We know we made it in the top 100 and simply want Chase to admit that SSDP was one of the top 100 organizations voted for by the public and explain that we were disqualified because Chase disagrees with our mission (which they have the right to do).
The New York Times caught wind of the story and talked with Micah Daigle, SSDP's Executive Director and Alex Koroknay-Palicz, Executive Director of the National Youth Rights Association. Just two days before the contest ended, Chase took down the vote counters on each organization's page so it was impossible for any group to tell how many votes they have. Micah and Alex explain how we had to have made the cut:
So some participants created informal leader boards. For instance, the National Youth Rights Association, a tiny nonprofit that works to teach young people about their rights and how to protect them, compiled voting data on almost 400 contestants, and 82 of the organizations that it tracked were among the 100 winners Chase named.
“For the most part, the organizations Chase picked were exactly the organizations we expected to win, because we had spent a lot of time and effort tracking it,” Mr. Koroknay-Palicz said. “So the biggest surprise was SSDP and a couple of pro-life groups, as well as the organization called the Prem Rawat Foundation, didn’t make it, because they had been doing pretty well.”
According to the leader board he created, Students for Sensible Drug Policy collected 2,305 votes through Dec. 9, when organizations no longer could track their votes or see who had voted for them.
At 2,305 votes, SSDP was in 14th place just a few days before the end of the contest. It's very unlikely we were surpassed by so many other organizations. By eliminating us, Chase is trying to send the message that no one cares about the work that non-profits like SSDP are doing. But drug policy reform is no longer a fringe issue; nationwide support for marijuana legalization is greater than ever before, a majority feel the drug war has failed and SSDP's chapter network is growing exponentially.
Most importantly, a giant corporation like Chase should not be presenting the public with a list of organizations it will be donating money to while pretending that all of those groups were selected by voters alone and not by the almighty hand of Chase.
What's so ironic about the whole thing is that SSDP has used Chase Bank for over 3 years - so they have no problem doing business with us but don't want us to participate in their contest. If you're feeling unhappy about Chase's lack of transparency in this contest, then make sure you Pledge to Boycott Chase!
If you're going to boycott Chase, please also consider making a donation to SSDP. If just 1,000 people donate $25, we'll have earned the $25K Chase wouldn't give us. And that's some funding we could use for our upcoming conference!