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LSU administration refutes student study about drug use on campus

1 month 1 week 2 days ago Friday, April 19 2024 Apr 19, 2024 April 19, 2024 10:19 PM April 19, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - The students behind a study regarding drug use by LSU students are standing by their work after university officials claim researchers used faulty data.

Ryley Young, one of the student researchers, is at a loss for words.

"I think holistically I don't know how anybody could arrive at the position that LSU doesn't have a drug problem," Young said. "We know with the death of Eli Thomas this past semester that students' lives are at risk from fentanyl."

According to a report by the district attorney’s office, a zip code that includes much of campus and runs north to downtown had a spike in overdose deaths in 2022. Thirty-four people died, which is more than double the previous year's total.

Researcher Rachel Wong says student's lives are at risk and always have been.

"The fact that there isn't an expected crisis when there are students who have passed away, whether it be on or off campus, I think it's still important because these are still Tigers," Wong said.

LSU's vice president for marketing and communications, Todd Woodward, criticized the study after it got news coverage.

"LSU does not have a fentanyl, heroin or overdose problem on campus," Woodward wrote in an email.

He also said the story used "faulty data, showed no causation between the drugs listed and NARCAN, and, most importantly, misrepresented our school and our students."

He went on to cite a national survey mandated by the LA Board of Regents that was done in 2023 that said “only 0.7% of LSU students report using opiates in the past 30 days.”

But after that, the university sent out an email about opioid awareness to students who live in dorms or campus apartments. The email informed students of what opioids are, what students should look out for, where to go for on-campus recovery if they are struggling with addiction, and precautions such as having Narcan. The email also included where students can get Narcan on campus.

Professor Bob Mann, whose students conducted the research, says LSU has a reputation for trying to sweep things under the rug.

"It reminds me of very much the way the LSU dealt with the rape and sexual abuse allegations a few years ago," Mann said. "They denied it, they covered it up, and then when they couldn't do that anymore because it exploded in the press; they had to deal with it, but it was too late and a lot of lives were wrecked."

Wong said student interest in Narcan was even higher than she expected after their research, as students began asking where they could make it more prevalent.

Mann said the students' work and motivation are solid.

"They love this place and they are concerned about the well-being of students in a way that I'm afraid some administrators aren't, so I'm really proud of them for speaking truth to power," Mann said.

We reached out to LSU’s communication team following the professor’s feedback and the announcement that Narcan training would be available on campus, but we have not received a response as of news time.

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