(The Cavalier Daily) 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.
What’s more is this bust took place in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood on Cleveland Avenue, barely a mile away from students living on Jefferson Park Avenue and a mere six-minute car ride away from Central Grounds. While the location of drug distribution is not public knowledge, the proximity to Grounds is beyond frightening because students are an easy target — young adults continue to use illicit drugs at extremely high rates. And the bust is no indication that students are now safe — Virginia State Police Superintendent Gary Settle said that 17 arrests is not enough to rid the Charlottesville community of pervasive illegal narcotics. Given our proximity to this problem, the University must take preventive measures to protect its students and prevent overdoses from happening at our school.
This is not the first time I have taken to writing on this issue. Last semester, I demanded that the University make naloxone accessible to students. This call to action is more pertinent now than ever before. Naloxone, a drug that can reverse fentanyl overdoses, is essential given the presence of fentanyl on college campuses. Six out of ten pills laced with fentanyl contain a lethal dose, it can be disguised as other recreational drugs, it is often put into pills that look like regular prescription opioids — the list of dangers goes on. The point is that fentanyl is increasingly easier to access and harder to detect. When I first wrote the article, it was simply out of precaution. Now, we have very abundant evidence that fentanyl does exist in our community — just a mile away from where we as students live, learn and work. The University must be proactive defenders of student safety, and make naloxone widely accessible to students across Grounds.