Editor’s Note: This article contains references to drug use and overdose.
Former Student Body President McKenzy Heavlin vetoed Resolution 106, a bill that would provide naloxone and basic first aid training to resident advisors on campus. While we disagree with the veto, here’s our breakdown of how Student Government can fix this bill and how they can avoid this for the next session.
Mariana Fabian (MF), Opinion Editor: The main issue with the resolution was the framework of the bill. If we go off of what Appalachian State’s bill says, I don’t really get why our version of the bill shifted gears so harshly.
Koen Rodabaugh (KR), Correspondent: There are clearly some discrepancies between the bill proposed by student Sen. Naila Din and the Appalachian State bill that it is based on, specifically the inclusion of a consent form. In talks with Din, she wanted to avoid confusion with HIPAA privacy requirements and University first aid policies, but with good Samaritan laws already in place, I don’t see the need.
MF: I completely agree with you there, Koen. At the same time, the other concerns about the bill were valid. For example, how will resident advisors deal with this kind of pressure being placed on them? Still, the removal of the consent form, I think, solves a lot of issues for governing bodies’ future with the resolution.
KR: I understand and sympathize with the concerns over RAs' stress levels in regards first aid. But it seems like the consent form adds to rather than decreases stress. No one wants to be in crisis situations, and the assumption with the bill seems to be that RAs are, by nature of their role, going to be the first to the scene. Adding a consent form will make RAs have to essentially sort through paperwork to decide whether they can save life rather than taking action as soon as they arrive.
MF: Precisely. I think the senators may have just gotten a little caught up with that framing in the writing of the bill. Nonetheless, they seem like they’re willing and dedicated to improving this bill for students’ mental and physical health. The opioid epidemic is not far removed from our campus, as the resolution discusses, and I know it's never the perfect time to have these tough conversations, but alas, we must.
KR: These things are extremely difficult to navigate and address. They’ll always be jarring, but that is exactly why we need this bill. No one ever expects the opioid crisis to affect them until it does, and it is better to be prepared for a crisis and not need Narcan than to need it and not have it. That’s why it's unfortunate that red tape muddied this process, pushing it to the next session rather than proceeding with providing Narcan within the next few semesters.
MF: I agree. I don’t think Heavlin’s veto has killed this bill forever, which makes me grateful.
KR: It seems like this veto could have the effect of pushing the upcoming session to have a more holistic and cooperative bill that will address even more concerns that might have come up down the line otherwise.
MF: One thing I’m glad for from our conversations with Din and Student Senate Body President Stephen McGuinness is that cost is one thing they’re not worried about. I feel like with medical necessities or provisions that the University has to buy, there’s always a budget concern. While I understand that, this kind of life-saving accessibility is worth every penny.
KR: True. In our conversations, it became clear that they’re looking into funding options, whether that be cutting funding from some areas to support Narcan or obtaining grants from the state and federal government or insurance companies to reduce costs. They’re prioritizing Narcan; I just wish this resolve arrived from the beginning for the resolution, not once it was shot down.
The veto of the resolution is not the end for Narcan accessibility and first aid training for our campus. The 103rd Student Government Session is going to have to work diligently with campus partners to improve the bill, but they seem driven toward that goal. Narcan accessibility is vital for maintaining and improving campus health and safety, so we hope an updated, refined version of the resolution will be ready for their first meeting in the 2023-24 academic year.
Are you a resident advisor or someone who’d like to comment on the resolution? Please send any information to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
For more detailed resources concerning Narcan and naloxone accessibility, check out our recent coverage. To find the nearest pharmacy that dispenses naloxone, visit naloxonesaves.org.
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