RHA’s Failure to Pass the CSU Joint Opioid Resolution Codifies Inaction

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),  over 600,000 Americans died between the years 2000 and 2016. Of those deaths, 42,000 died in 2016 alone—an average of 115 deaths each day. On college campuses, between 1993 and 2005, opioid use has increased by 343%–and that increase was before the current epidemic. Newer numbers would certainly be even more grim.

Despite these harrowing statistics, the Residence Hall Association (RHA) voted Monday to do nothing. To clarify, this is not meant to be read as a slight against members of the Senate; instead, it is meant to bring attention to this important issue.

The Associated Students of Colorado State University (ASCSU), the student government on campus, has already done their part by voting unanimously to approve a Resolution aimed at preventing and combating opioid abuse on campus. ASCSU further extended their hand, asking for RHA’s approval in the first ever joint resolution between the two student-led governing bodies with a goal of allowing members of Residence Halls to play a role in the passage of this historic legislation.

Some of us in the RHA were in favour of the move—it was clear that it could save lives. Others in the RHA didn’t see it that way. Unfortunately, they injected partisanship and a narrow view of the issue at hand into the debate. Those exhibiting this behavior failed to understand how the opioid crisis impacts people of all ethnic, economic and social backgrounds. This brazen insertion of blanket partisanship worked to stymie ASCSU’s progress in combating the opioid crisis on campus.

I would like to reiterate: those in the RHA Senate are good people, and their objections to the resolution were not intended to harm members of our community. Still, the criticisms they levied against the bill must be addressed, as failing to act endangers students who live on this campus.

The main concern with the Resolution was the provision which asks the University to train Resident Assistants (RAs) to identify and treat opioid overdose. Under the status quo, RAs at Colorado State University receive no such training and as a result fail to recognize the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose. To remedy this, the Resolution’s proposal encourages the University to implement training about opioid overdose and treatment, and empower RAs by equipping those “on duty” with Naloxone—colloquially referred to as Narcan.

Our RHA colleagues worry the improper use of Narcan may harm students. During debate on the legislation, a claim was made that the improper application of Narcan could lead to seizures and vomiting, but according to peer-reviewed medical literature, “The contribution [of] naloxone to a seizure is unclear.” According to another study, only 0.1% of patients had a seizure after being given a dose of Narcan, and only 0.2% vomited. In fact, Narcan is so safe that it is a standard emergency response procedure to administer Narcan in the face of even a possible opioid overdose, including when underlying drug that was ingested is unclear. The potential to save lives outweighs any potential side effects from Narcan.

Others claimed the opioid crisis may or may not be a problem on CSU’s campus and, as a result, there may be no need to act–yet ASCSU’s Resolution already addressed this concern. The language used in the resolution instructs the administration to “include the number of opioid overdoses and deaths in its annual drug and alcohol report.”

Another participant attempting to downplay the opioid epidemic argued that because opioid deaths have been declining in Colorado following the legalization of marijuana, action is not required. This actually isn’t true. Even if it were true, however, the argument is a non-sequitur. Even if opioid use has been declining, we must act to uphold the safety of our students. Homicide in the United States has been falling since the early 1990s, but would anyone argue against pursuing policies to reduce homicide simply because murder rates are falling?

The most difficult moment of RHA’s debate occurred when an individual in the room dismissed the issue entirely on the basis of race. They stated, “I just find it disheartening that in the past, ASCSU has failed to pass bills in support of minorities, but they were quick to pass this bill that is mostly affected by white people,” implying opioid overdose is a “white” problem, and that ASCSU has been a body of inaction when it comes to representing all identities on our campus. These comments boldly contradict our mission as RHA Senators. We are chosen to serve and represent all students who live in the Residence Halls, irrespective of their skin color. This is not a race issue, this is a human issue.

Lastly, CSU is not alone in its efforts to combat opioid abuse. The University of Wisconsin has already adopted a policy where both security officers and RAs are equipped with Narcan and were given training in its administration. While these reforms have been passed recently, thus unable to provide substantial empirical data regarding their efficacy, we know from a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, that for every 163 Naloxone kits distributed, one life is saved.

Empowering individuals on our campus to save lives is a perfect example of a policy that all Rams should support, partisanship aside. It is time for our community to come together as one to enact change that directly benefits the student body. We are strongly optimistic that a solution can be found. This Resolution has the potential to save lives. It is true that Rams take care of Rams–and we implore our colleagues, classmates, and anyone involved in the CSU community to support the ASCSU project to reduce the number of opioid deaths on campus. We will not, and cannot, let this initiative fail, because the lives of our fellow students are at stake. We will continue to fight for this project on our campus, because no student should die from a preventable death.

 

Join us in this historic movement on our campus by contacting your ASCSU and RHA Senators to express your support.

 

Signed,

Sen. K. Alexander Adams, Residence Hall Association

Sen. Alex Moss, Residence Hall Association

Sen. Brendan J. Kaelin, Residence Hall Association

Sen. Brandon J. Northrop, Residence Hall Association

Pres. Sydney Steinhoff, Allison Hall Council

Pres. Ethan Burshek, CSU Young Americans for Liberty

VP. Nelson Bopp, CSU Young Americans for Liberty

Pres. Elijah Ullman, CSU Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Speaker Isabel Brown, ASCSU Senate

Sen. Liam Aubrey, ASCSU College of Business

Sen. Josh Williams, ASCSU Multi-Faith and Belief Council

Trophy Hunting as a Conservation Strategy

On November 15th , the media reported that the Trump administration was planning on reversing an Obama 2014 ban on the importation of elephant trophies. On November 17th , President Trump announced the ban would stay in place. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which proposed the change in policy, argued hunting, “will enhance the survival of the species in the wild.” Despite the political backlash, the FWS’s decision to reverse the Obama-era ban does not suggest malevolence. Quite the contrary, in fact: reversing the ban reflects sound economic and environmental judgement.

Private property is integral to environmental conservation. Governments, who have gobbled up African land in order to conserve it, are a threat to conservation efforts. Illegal poaching still occurs on these lands, and local governments—with no economic incentives to do so—have often failed in taking the necessary steps to protect wildlife from poachers. In fact, the dearth of economic knowledge among policy makers has made the situation worse, as they frequently destroy ivory they acquire from poachers instead of selling it into the market, which restricts supply and increases prices, fueling even more poaching.

The root of the problem for elephants is their public ownership, and the fact that they are worth more dead than alive. A century ago, the American bison were in the same situation, but now that bison are often privately owned and sold for meat, their populations are stable. Cows, chickens, and pigs will never go extinct because they are economically valuable to the farmers and ranchers that raise these animals. As Aristotle once noted, “What is common to many is least taken care of, for all men have greater regard for what is their own than for what they possess in common with others.” In order to ensure conservation, putting land into private hands and monetizing it is a tried and true method of conservation.

In other words, in order to save elephants, we must kill them in an open and legal marketplace. If elephants were privately owned, landowners would have every incentive to keep the populations high enough in order to continue selling tickets to wealthy westerners who wanted their shot at killing an exotic beast. Pachyderm lovers should be leaders, rather than opponents, of trophy hunting liberalization.

The empirical evidence backs up the theoretical case in favor of wildlife privatization. In 1900, only 20 white rhinos were left after decades of uncontrolled habitat loss and slaughter, and all the remaining individuals lived on a single wildlife reserve in South Africa. The number of rhinos left barely functioned as a breeding population. However, by 2010, the number of white rhinos in Africa ballooned to over 20,000 individuals—an increase of 99,900 percent!

White rhinos are effectively privatized. Rhinos are valued using an auction system and both private land owners and the government has an economic incentive to conserve rhinos and their habitat in order to receive an income stream from trophy hunters.

Contrast the successful white rhino conservation efforts to the failing efforts to protect the black rhino. Black rhinos live in nations where it is illegal to privately own and hunt trophy animals. As a result, their population has fallen from 100,000 individuals in 1960 to about 2,500 today.

In Zimbabwe, trophy hunting is common on privately owned wildlife reserves. A study published in 2001 by the journal, Science, argued trophy hunting in Zimbabwe has “doubled the area of the country under wildlife management relative to the 13% in state protected areas.”

The Great Elephant Census, a peer-reviewed publication which tracks elephant
populations, found overall African elephant populations have declined thirty percent between 2007 and 2014. Zimbabwe, however, has had a stable elephant population over the same time period. The best performing nations in terms of elephant preservation—South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana—have some form of legalised elephant trophy hunting. The worst performing nations tend to rely entirely on government conservation and the prohibition of the ivory trade.

If a resource is being overused, it is important to establish ownership in order for private land owners to conserve the resources being extracted. A lack of ownership of big game animals in Africa has led to a dwindling population and shrinking habitat. The marketplace may seem cold and calculating, but putting an economic value on wild animals is the best way to protect them.