Parliament, Temple Student Government’s legislative branch, passed its first binding resolution of Fall 2017 during its final meeting of the semester last week. This is the fifth binding resolution passed by Parliament since its formation in Spring 2017.
The resolution, proposed by sophomore class representative Alex Mark, calls for the Wellness Resource Center and other university departments to teach students how to administer Narcan — the brand name for naloxone, an opioid overdose antidote — and other life-saving techniques.
“Most students aren’t aware that in Philadelphia, there’s a standing order, which means anyone can go to a pharmacy and get Narcan,” Mark said during Parliament’s session. “Who knows how many overdoses could be stopped if more students had this knowledge?”
According to a map by the Pennsylvania Opioid Overdose Reduction Technical Assistance Center, the retailer closest to Temple sells naloxone in the form of a nasal is a Rite Aid on 3rd Street near Lehigh Avenue. Two doses of the nasal spray costs around $125.
Opioids are regularly prescribed by doctors after certain medical procedures to help manage pain, and they are also often sold illegally. Both of these distribution methods contribute to high rates of overdose fatalities. In 2016, Philadelphia reported 907 fatal overdoses, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
Two Fox School of Business students, James Orlando and Michael Paytas, died of overdoses last week. The city’s Medical Examiner’s Office did not report which drugs Paytas, a senior marketing major, or Orlando, a junior Fox School of Business student, used before they died. Naloxone only prevents overdoses caused by opioids.
In August, junior printmaking major Nora Wilson held a workshop during which she taught students how to administer Narcan nasal spray, The Temple News reported. There were no university officials involved with the event.
When Parliament passes a binding resolution, TSG’s executive branch is required to update Parliament about steps being taken to address the resolution, implying that the executive branch must at least consider implementing it, according to TSG’s constitution.
Mark said he met with Alison McKee, the director of the Wellness Resource Center, while drafting the resolution. He said they discussed potential changes to new student orientation materials, like the online “Think About It” courses that every student is required to take during their first semester at Temple, to include information about Narcan.
Since the resolution passed, Mark met with Alex Schmied, TSG’s director of health and wellness, to discuss how TSG will act on the resolution next semester. Mark said he will also meet with Parliamentarian Jacob Kurtz and Speaker Bridget Warlea to coordinate efforts between TSG and Parliament.
Schmied doesn’t want to “step on [Mark’s] toes” when it comes to working with the university in implementing educational materials. Mark will continue working with McKee, while Schmied and TSG will raise awareness on Main Campus, she said.
“[TSG] will be focusing more on things like tabling and pamphlets,” Schmied added. “I think raising awareness of naloxone and how students can get it, and even things like medical amnesty, is the best thing we can do.”
Sophomore English major Nick Cipolla said students should have access to information about naloxone, but it’s disappointing that this effort came after Paytas and Orlando died.
“It’s too late for them,” Cipolla said. “It just takes too long for this stuff to be adopted. When it comes to universities and administrations, they’re just so slow when it comes to this type of thing.”
“This resolution was a great start,” Cipolla added. “But there needs to be more of them, and I hope Parliament is actually effective when it comes to them.”
“Parliament is definitely going to keep working on this issue,” Mark said. “I think it affects everyone on campus in some way or another. It’s vital that student government gets involved.”