MCC Daily Tribune

President's Wednesday Message

Over the past year, MCC has seen an increase in incidents related to heroin-opioid use. Individuals have been treated with naloxone/Narcan for suspected overdoses; employees in our Housekeeping department have found needles in our restrooms and other spaces; Health Services and Student Rights and Responsibilities departments are seeing more cases related to heroin-opioid use; and students and employees are presenting with symptoms and behaviors that suggest they may be facing addiction.

The issues we are seeing at MCC do not exist in a vacuum. Just this week, the New York Times noted that deaths from drug overdose experienced the highest jump recorded between 2015 and 2016. A recent report from the Rockefeller Institute found that deaths related to overdoses and chronic drug abuse increased 71 percent from 2010 to 2015. Drug-related deaths increased locally by 64 percent in that time. These figures do not account for the devastation to individuals in the grip of addiction and the impact on their families.

These individuals are our students and co-workers. While we might be quick to see heroin/opioid addiction as a "student issue," the data tells us otherwise. Because the pathway to opioid abuse often begins with medication prescribed to treat post-operative or other pain, the face of addiction is more likely to be that of a middle-aged man who developed a dependency on painkillers prescribed after dental surgery than it is that of a teenage girl who fell into abuse because of peer pressure. Overall, just 35 percent of drug-related deaths occurred in individuals between 15 and 34 years of age. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death, nationally, for individuals under age 50.

Our challenge is that the pathway to addiction, no matter its starting point, now runs through our facilities, classrooms, and offices. We have an obligation and responsibility to respond.

MCC has convened a Heroin-Opioid Task Force that will

  • define the extent of the heroin-opioid problem at MCC
  • recommend actions the College can take to address the issue through education, services, etc.
  • identify resources and partnerships that can assist MCC in our response

Task force members come from across the College and serve under co-chairs Elizabeth Mandly, Human Services-Addictions Counseling, and Jacqueline Carson, Health Services. They are (in alpha order):

  • Jamia Danzy, Housing and Residence Life
  • Amy Greer, Student Rights and Responsibilities
  • Kevin Hall, Public Safety
  • James McKenna, Health and Physical Education
  • Chris Piro, Public Safety
  • Elliote Simpson, Purchasing
  • Aubrey Zamaira, Counseling

The task force will report out no later than October 2 and will meet with student focus groups in early fall to test their recommendations and gain their input.

Assuring the strength and wellness of our College community is our shared responsibility. I encourage you to support the work of the task force and members of our community who have been impacted by the opioid crisis.

Please feel free to leave your comments in the blog.

Kress, Anne
President's Office