In 2017, Ohio had the second highest rate of drug overdoses in the country, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and now the Undergraduate Student Government is calling on the university to make a potentially life-saving addition to campus.
Two resolutions, one to increase fentanyl test strip access on campus and one to increase student support of the goal to locally or sustainably source 40 percent of campus food options by 2025, passed with unanimous consent at USG’s General Assembly meeting in the Senate Chamber Wednesday.
Expanding access to fentanyl test strips
USG passed a resolution that recommends Ohio State provide fentanyl test strips in the Student Wellness Center with instructions on how to use them and encourages the incorporation of advertisements regarding where students can get the strips on the wellness app, the resolution states.
Fentanyl is a strong opioid used to treat severe pain, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Recreational drugs, such as methamphetamine and ecstasy, can sometimes be laced with fentanyl, Pranav Padmanabhan, vice president of Buckeyes for Harm Reduction, said. Before someone uses recreational drugs, they could test the drugs for fentanyl, which could potentially kill them.
“Fentanyl test strips are a form of harm reduction, which is a philosophy that acknowledges that drug use is a part of our community and tries to prevent death by making sure that people have the resources to use safely,” Padmanabhan said.
Padmanabhan said the implementation of fentanyl test strips is relevant to the state of Ohio.
“Based on Ohio statistics, it is likely that a lot of you have been touched by the addiction epidemic or know someone who has, and unfortunately, the overdose epidemic doesn’t just touch people outside the university, but it has affected people here as well,” Padmanabhan said.
Sen. Dennis Pales said the goal of the resolution is to make fentanyl test strips as accessible in the wellness center as condoms.
“Ideally, they would be handed out in the wellness center along with condoms to kind of lower the stigma and make it seem like a natural thing that people are just going to get something that they need and ideally we’d have a tab on the new wellness app,” Pales said.
The main concern, raised by Sen. Andrew Klemm, was whether the university is likely to support the resolution because of how it could affect its public image.
Pales also raised concerns about the university’s acceptance of the resolution.
“The university has a lot of push back against harm reduction generally,” Pales said. “It doesn’t make the university look good, but that doesn’t mean it’s not something we should do.”
Sen. Pales said in an email that he would like to have strips on campus as soon as possible with the hope being by fall semester.
Students can currently get test strips from Columbus Public Health and smoke shop Waterbeds ‘n’ Stuff, Pales said.
Student support of Ohio State’s 40 percent sustainable food plan
A resolution seeking to increase student support on Ohio State’s 40 percent sustainable food plan passed quickly at the assembly with unanimous consent.
The goal is to make 40 percent of the university’s food procurements from local or sustainable options by 2025, according to Appendix A in the resolution.
“That goal was actually made back in 2015, so it’s urging the university to continue forward with this,” Klemm said.
Klemm said the university is a business, and if they feel like students are not enthusiastic about the plan, it won’t be a priority; therefore, the goal of this resolution is to gain student support.
“The main goal of this is really to just get student support, and it’s something that the leaders of the [Ohio State Panel on Food Sustainability] are really asking us for,” Klemm said. “They want students to be aware of it and they want to make sure that transparency within our food is something that students do care about.”
Encouragement to increase food options at C-store locations
A resolution working to increase C-store food options was tabled by the resolution’s sponsor Sen. Andrew Pierce, citing improvement that needed to be made before the resolution came back to the floor.
The resolution was created to increase a diversity in foods provided at C-stores so students have more variety to choose from; however, after concern from multiple senators that the resolution still needed work, it was pulled from the floor and will be re-introduced at a later date.