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

Local Libertarian Closes in on City Council

If you don’t live in Loveland, you may not know that this November there was a local election for city council, but I’m guessing that, had it been in Fort Collins, most of you still wouldn’t have known about it or anything about the candidates. Unfortunately, 2017 politics, for too many, is centered on evaluating how the President is doing, with maybe a little bit of news out of congress. Often, however, the most important parts of our lives and communities are being affected right here, by the elected officials in our cities.

John Ryan Keil, 26, is one such individual who is paying attention to local politics and has realized that leaving our towns in the same old establishment’s hands is doing more harm than good. John has run for City Council in Loveland Ward 3 in last spring’s special election and this November’s general election, garnering 10% and 29% of the vote respectively.

Keil’s goals are to, “End corporate welfare that creates a dependency on taxation for viability of business. Reduce the debt binge, and the budget because being heavily reliant on sales tax and over committing ourselves can be devastating in a recession where sales tax drops by any substantial amount. Look at the springs in 08.”

By calling out the rampant corporatism and crony influence in city government, Keil is giving residents of all ages a new voice that would result in more sustainable and effective policies. It is our younger generation, especially, that realizes more and more that we can’t just keep kicking issues like these down the road and hoping that someone else will pay for what we are doing now.

Keil doesn’t just talk about fiscal responsibility. He has been very successful for a 26 year old, already being a home and business owner as well as a loving husband and father of two. His business, a hemp farm that produces medical CBD oil, is an example of John’s forward thinking and acceptance of new industries and ideas. That kind of thinking is the type of thinking and understanding we need in our community to help guide things in the right direction. One that is different from the bought out politician’s that is only putting ours and future generations into unsustainable debt and is only benefiting the already rich developers.

So as we look this coming year, and approach midterm elections, I urge you to take more of an interest in what is happening not only at the state level but also at the county and city levels. More often than not, those elections are more important to your bottom line. Make sure you look at not only what they are promising and saying, but what kind of people they are, because we can’t afford to keep financing our future.

Reference:

http://www.reporterherald.com/news/election/ci_31437004/election-2017-live-results-from-loveland-larimer-county