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Advocating for our Students: Buckeye and Bearcat Day at the Statehouse

Written by Kelsey Hoeller, Student Assistant of the Ohio State Collegiate Recovery Community and Ahmed Hosni, Program Manager, Ohio State Collegiate Recovery Community and Directory of Recovery, HECAOD

 

At the start of the summer, alumni from both The Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati came together to attend the first-ever Buckeye and Bearcat Day at the Ohio Statehouse to advocate on behalf of the importance of higher education funding at the Ohio Legislature.  We had the opportunity to visit the Statehouse and observe meetings in the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well.  Later, we broke into smaller groups to meet with four legislators to discuss the current recovery issues within higher education.

The four legislators with whom we met appreciated our efforts to share our concerns and were open to hearing our suggestions for improving the Ohio higher education system. In addition to advocating for the importance of increased accessibility and sustained funding for higher education, we spoke of the need to support collegiate recovery programs in the Ohio and the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery (HECAOD).  This opportunity allowed us to express our support for combatting the opioid epidemic and protecting the state’s higher education system, two urgent issues.

As student affairs professionals, we might not believe becoming involved in government affairs or advocacy work is a part of our job, but it is. Who better to advocate for effective health and wellness policies on behalf of students than student affairs professionals? We encourage you to get to know your school’s government affairs team and ask to be included in discussions about potential policy changes that would impact your work. Implementing Good Samaritan policies, allowing first responders to carry naloxone, and advocating for increased funding for collegiate recovery and special grant programs are only a few of the key issues we can support. You might even propose ideas for evidence-based state policies to a legislator!

During national recovery month, we are reminded of the millions of individuals in recovery, many of whom are thriving and alive today because of the efforts of tireless advocates. Many of the people entering recovery are younger and younger by the day. As we continue to be bombarded by the news of accidental overdoses in our communities, we must remember many people are beginning their own journeys of recovery each day. Whether we are student affairs professionals, counselors, health professionals, or recovery support specialists, each of us can help to save lives through prevention, early intervention, and education. Through advocacy, we can affect positive change to for countless individuals. Nihil de nobis, sine nobis (nothing about us, without us)! It is imperative that we remain knowledgeable about current substance misuse prevention, treatment and recovery policies. We must also continue to advocate for the importance of evidence-based policies at the state and institutional levels.

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