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CSU student government continues plans to increase access to overdose prevention drug

In the face of a nationwide epidemic, students at Colorado State University are continuing to fight for opioid overdose prevention.

Associated Students of CSU Speaker of the Senate Isabel Brown partnered with Students For Opioid Solutions, a non-profit that works with student government associations across the country, at the start of the spring semester in order to draft legislation aimed at overdose awareness and prevention on campus.

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“In the ASCSU Senate, we feel that we have accomplished our initial goal of starting the conversation of how to prevent opioid overdoses among students, and we are excited to be part of the movement in which CSU will set the nationwide standard,” Brown wrote in a statement to the Collegian.

Speaker of the Senate Isabel Brown counts votes during the Jan. 31, 2018 senate meeting. (Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

Although the original resolution aimed at equipping resident assistants with Narcan, a prescription medicine that reverses an overdose according to the Center for Disease Control, Brown said that the resolution has evolved into a long-term project in which ASCSU seeks to provide ease of accessibility to Narcan for students across the community.

“We are looking at helping the (CSU Health Center) Pharmacy with their standing order for naloxone in purchasing the first units of Narcan that they will be giving out over the counter,” Brown said during the Senate session on Feb. 28.

Brown said during the Senate meeting that those first units of Narcan would be free for students to pick up from the CSU Health Center Pharmacy. 

In a statement to the Collegian, Brown wrote that ASCSU is currently evaluating how a portion of the ASCSU budget could be used to cover the cost of the first set of Narcan units.

The opioid overdose prevention project was originally presented as a joint-resolution between ASCSU and the CSU Residence Hall Association. However, after the resolution passed unanimously in ASCSU but failed in the RHA Senate, Brown’s project changed in nature.

Despite these changes to the project, Brown said it is still important to ASCSU to work with RHA in this movement.

“While the initial resolution did not pass in (RHA), we are continuing to work with the RHA leadership and a handful of interested Senators to make a difference in the Residence Life community,” Brown wrote.

RHA President Kyra Ferguson said RHA has taken a step back from the project at this time, after two follow-up resolutions were introduced in February to the RHA Senate in response to the initial joint-legislation.

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Residence Hall Association President Kyra Ferguson speaks to the ASCSU Senate body Feb. 28, 2018, about bias-motivated incidents in residence halls on campus. (Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

The first resolution, which passed with a vote of 18-1-1, urged the University to include the number of opioid overdoses and deaths in its annual drug and alcohol report, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, but it contains an amendment that RHA Senate will not approve any future attempts to give RAs Narcan until the data has been published for the 2018-2019 school year.

The second resolution, which failed with a vote of 3-15-2, collaborated more with ASCSU to modify the original joint-resolution. It proposed that the Office of Housing and Dining Services and Residence Life train RAs in recognition of an opioid abuse and overdose, in addition to requesting the opioid overdoses and deaths data be published.

With these changes, Brown wrote that Residence Life, HDS, the CSU Police Department and a number of leaders in CSU’s Administration have expressed their support for the project. Additionally, Brown said a number of community members have reached out to ASCSU regarding this project, including the CSU Health Network and the Health District of Northern Larimer County.

“The Health District of Northern Larimer County recently came to an ASCSU Senate Session to present their findings in the Northern Colorado community,” Brown wrote. “From what we have found, there have been a handful of student overdoses leading to death in our community but solely with students who live off campus.”

Brown wrote that she looks forward to increasing awareness and working with the University in finding a way to report this data in a more accessible manner for the project’s future.

“The time is now for our nation’s student leaders to join together and take a stand. We are the generation that will, together, change how our campuses prevent opioid overdoses on campuses,” Brown wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Here in ASCSU and across the country, we are student leaders dedicated to setting a nationwide standard for this fight.”

Collegian reporter Natalia Sperry can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Natalia_Sperry.

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