A resolution to place naloxone in all on-campus residence halls was passed during the Feb. 1 Student Government Association (SGA) Senate meeting. The resolution’s passage coincides with JMU’s efforts to make naloxone more accessible on campus. 

Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as a drug that reverses opioid overdose.

The resolution, drafted by senior SGA Senator Emily Butters, argues that Narcan and resources on proper administration should be available in all on-campus residence halls. Butters said her inspiration for the resolution stemmed from an opinion article published by The Breeze addressing the topic of naloxone in residence halls.

“I really liked the idea of promoting that Narcan should be more accessible on campus,” Butters said. “I wanted to both start a conversation and also provide that we should be doing something about it.”

Butters said she believes residence halls are an ideal location for naloxone since they’re open at night.

Although the SGA resolution passed, the question of how naloxone would be accessible remains an issue. Butters said she believes it’s best to leave the decision up to JMU.

While drafting the resolution, Butters received help from her peers to refine the resolution’s wording, including Student Body President Shawdee Bakhtiari and senior Melody Haak, SGA’s communications committee chair.

Bakhtiari said SGA strives to fulfill the needs identified by SGA members and destigmatize the potential struggles of JMU community members.

“As a college campus, through student leadership and administration, we have a responsibility to uphold the safety of our students and our community,” Bakhtiari said, “and so I think that is a really big proponent of [the resolution]. The more resources, the better.”

JMU to increase awareness and opportunities

Butters said she met with Kristina Blyer, associate vice president for health and well-being, after the resolution’s passage. Butters said Blyer spoke of strides being made to train students and JMU police officers in Narcan administration.

In an email to The Breeze, Blyer said there’s been hesitation to implement naloxone in residence halls since not all resident advisers (RAs) may feel comfortable with administering the drug. However, Blyer said all JMU police officers carry and have been trained in administering naloxone. 

In her email, Blyer identified other campus-wide efforts, including a new student-run organization. Blyer said she worked with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to provide two on-campus Narcan trainings, called Revive!, last Fall. Blyer credited Emma Ashley, a JMU student, in assisting her with Revive! and in creating a student organization “whose mission is to continue Narcan training for students.”

Blyer wrote of Revive!’s current objective to begin providing training to students this spring. These trainings are available to all students and groups, Blyer said.

“Students should have the option to be trained in Narcan and have a resource to get it if they want to,” Butters said.

Blyer said Revive! will be advised by Anne Brenneman, director of the University Health Center (UHC). Brenneman and student members have been trained by VDH in the administration and teaching of administration of naloxone.

“We have been working with other student leaders and made significant progress in increasing access to Narcan on campus,” Blyer wrote. “We feel this is a concern that everyone can buy into and we can work together to save lives.”

Both Butters and Bakhtiari voiced their support for these efforts.

“Allowing those resources and … creating those spaces for people who may not be well-versed in healthcare … is a great opportunity,” Bakhtiari said. “It’s a really great step forward.”

Contact Eleanor Shaw at shaweo@dukes.jmu.edu. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.