New CSU student government, RHA joint-legislation aimed at overdose prevention on campus

Natalia Sperry

Going into their first session of the semester, the Associated Students of Colorado State University senate will vote on legislation that aims to tackle opioid abuse on college campuses.

ASCSU Speaker of the Senate Isabel Brown has partnered with Students For Opioid Solutions, a non-profit that works with student government associations across the country, as a campus captain to draft a resolution intended to prevent opioid overdoses on campuses.

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Woman listening.
Speaker of the Senate Isabel Brown listens as a member of the senate speaks. (Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

“As a pre-med student whose life has been deeply affected by family members’ struggle with addiction, I immediately knew that I had to bring this special project to our campus,” Brown wrote in a statement to the Collegian. “The opioid epidemic is sweeping our nation, but rarely receives the media coverage that it warrants. 52,000 Americans lost their lives as a result of a drug overdose in 2015–a figure that climbed to over 65,000 in 2016.”

This legislation, which is scheduled to come to the ASCSU Senate floor Wednesday, Jan. 24, involves a five-part process intended to prevent overdoses and change the narrative surrounding opioids on campus.

According to a press release from Students for Opioid Solutions, that process begins with the passing of a joint resolution between ASCSU and the CSU Residence Hall Association, the first of its kind in either organization’s history, according to Brown.

“I had an immediate priority to collaborate with RHA, as they work directly with Residence Life to improve the on-campus experience for CSU students,” Brown wrote.

The resolution will come before the RHA senate on Jan. 22, and marks the realization of a longtime goal of both organizations to collaborate on joint legislation, according to RHA President Kyra Ferguson.  

“We’re hoping by bringing this bill into both Senates we can demonstrate how much it matters to CSU students, and the steps we want to take to leave this campus better than it was,” Ferguson said in a statement to the Collegian. “By recognizing each other’s voices on campus, I hope it means we can become better representatives of students.”

Likewise, Brown wrote that she believes this legislation will set a precedent for many joint resolutions to come.

The resolution calls upon school administrators to require that residential life and campus police officers receive training in the recognition of an opioid overdose. Specifically, the legislation will encourage residential life staff to receive training in the use of Narcan, a naloxone prescription medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose, according to the CDC.

The resolution will also encourage the University to include the number of opioid overdoses and deaths in its annual drug and alcohol report. The resolution also asks that there be amnesty for students who report overdoses and includes a Good Samaritan clause protecting students who come to the aid of someone suffering from an opioid overdose.

“My ultimate goal for this legislation is simple–to empower our community to respond to emergent overdoses in a moment’s notice,” Brown wrote. “Every death that occurs on a college campus as a result of an opioid overdose is one too many. Rams take care of Rams.”

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