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Alec Foster: the activist

Posted on December 13, 2012 | by Julie DeVito

Alec Foster was devastated when a girl he knew passed away because of a drug overdose. According to the Steinhardt junior, his friend’s death could likely have been prevented if those nearby had called for help.

Hoping to prevent tragedies like his friend’s death, Foster began reaching out to government and administrative organizations at NYU that have an effect on student well-being and helped form an alliance among them in relation to drug policy.

Through these connections, Foster has restructured NYU’s branch of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, successfully changing NYU’s Good Samaritan Policy this past May. The policy now states that students are able to call for help in situations where someone is in need of medical assistance without the fear of disciplinary consequence by the university. Before the change, students who called for help could be punished for the illegal activity.

Everything Foster does is part of his passion for public service and building a community, a passion he first began to realize when he took the reigns of SSDP.

“Through SSDP, I feel like I’ve made a community at NYU for students who have obscure interests,” Foster said. “For example, people like myself that are looking for a community at NYU that might like drugs or that might hate drugs but want to bring it into public discourse and create a conversation where there wasn’t one already.”

He continued this community-building effort by connecting with students as a mentor through Steinhardt, where he taught new student seminars for incoming students to adjust to life at NYU. It became Foster’s mission to connect the students with resources they might not even know they are looking for and to help them advocate for changes they want put in place.

Despite Foster’s suit, tie and professional manner, his personality is also apparent from his smile, sense of humor and longboard cluttered with stickers that read NYU SSDP, No More Drug War, Skateboarding Is Not A Crime, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and OBAMA BIDEN 2012. During the summer of 2011, he created a political action committee at NYU called Skateboarders for Car and Road Safety, which most recently advocated for the repaving the road on Washington Square East directly in front of Silver. They also support making safety sexy and for more bicycle lanes in New York City.

In July, Foster continued his efforts to increase community at NYU when he became the face of NYU Memes, a Facebook group dedicated to communicating student issues and experiences through a picture and short caption. Frustrated at seeing the program run as a business, Foster used his skills in technology communication to improve the page. He said it created a new, creative side in him.

“To me, that’s just another version of public service. It’s community-building at NYU and helps other students become more culturally aware.”

As a current intern at the White House during his study away semester in Washington, D.C., Foster has developed a renewed dedication to public service, which he hopes to bring back to NYU and continue throughout his life and career.

With so much on his plate, Foster does not have time for much else — but he is fine with mixing work with play.

“I tend to make my hobbies into causes,” he said.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Dec. 13 print edition. Julie DeVito is a senior editor. Email her at 


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