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Charlottesville has received a disturbing reminder that illegal substances are prevalent in our community. Earlier this month, Charlottesville police completed a drug bust — called Operation Rock Bottom — where they arrested 17 members of a drug cartel. In the bust they found over three pounds of cocaine, a pound of methamphetamine and 850,000 lethal doses of fentanyl — enough to kill all of Charlottesville five times over.
When residents of the University of California at Berkeley’s chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi woke up last week, they were met with hundreds of shellfish strewn across and thrown through the windows of their property. With good reason, the members of the Jewish fraternity initially thought this act was a hate crime — consumption of shellfish is strictly prohibited under Jewish law, the vandalism took place on the first Shabbat of the semester and UC Berkeley has a history of antisemitism. A couple days later, though, the student responsible said it was an ignorant prank, not a calculated act of antisemitism — a position that was later confirmed by a spokesperson for the Berkeley Police Department. The brothers of AEPi, though, said it best — ignorance does not excuse antisemitism. The mere fact that the vandal did not know better does not erase the antisemitic implications of their harmful actions. As acts of antisemitism increase on college campuses and Jewish students continue to share that they feel unsafe at their schools, acts like the one at UC Berkeley must prompt larger discussions about the need for universities to redress the pervasive legacy of antisemitism.
In response to rising opioid-related fatalities, the Food and Drug administration recently approved naloxone for over-the-counter sales. In 2021 alone, there were 70,601 synthetic opioids-related deaths. Narcan — the most popular brand of the medicine naloxone — can reverse opioid overdoses. The University needs to be proactive, especially now that the Drug Enforcement Administration is strongly warning college students to be wary of unintentionally consuming fentanyl-laced pills. While the University must ensure naloxone is accessible for all students on Grounds, putting naloxone in residence halls is a necessary first step to ensure student safety as the national opioid crisis worsens.
Close to 70 percent percent of college students reported engaging in sexual activity with at least one partner — on average, though, only about 20.2 percent of female college students and 8 percent of male college students get tested for sexually-transmitted infections annually. In the face of rising STI infection rates, students should have conversations with medical professionals about getting tested for STIs. Testing has benefits for both their health and the health of our community, and students should feel comfortable engaging not only in testing but in discourse about STIs.
For a generation of college students raised in the digital age, it often comes as a surprise when professors establish no-technology policies on the first day of class. Professors support these policies by claiming that banning technology reduces distractions and encourages handwritten notes, overall leading to better retention of information. These bans extend to laptops, which some students with disabilities depend on for success in class. While no-technology policies have good intentions behind them, they negatively impact students with disabilities by isolating them and adding to disability stigmas.
It is no secret that accessing healthcare is often challenging for University students. From long wait times for appointments to expensive lab tests, the obstacles to care seem endless, especially when you are sick. And while the University has made some improvements in these areas, there is one aspect of student healthcare that stands out to me as relatively unaddressed — access to medication.
Trigger warning: This column discusses sexual assault.