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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN BC: Edu: UVSS Moves Forward On Needle Disposal Boxes
Title:CN BC: Edu: UVSS Moves Forward On Needle Disposal Boxes
Published On:2012-01-26
Source:Martlet (CN BC Edu)
Fetched On:2012-01-30 06:02:02

The UVic Students' Society (UVSS) has agreed to move forward with the
installation and ongoing maintenance of needle disposal boxes in
designated areas around the SUB.

A motion to provide the main hallway bathrooms and Munchie Bar with
drop-off boxes was put forward by UVSS Chairperson Tara Paterson,
after the UVic Department of Occupational Safety and Environment
reported its finding of 10 stray needles on university grounds in 2010
and 15 more in 2011.

AIDS Vancouver Island (AVI) and Campus Security have also discovered a
number of discarded needles in various places around UVic. "Because
there have been needles found on campus and because we know that there
are diabetics, people injecting hormones [and] intravenous drug users,
this does pose a bit of a safety concern," says Paterson.

Disposal boxes will be similar to the ones currently used by B.C
Ferries, said Paterson, and will cost roughly $200 initially plus a
$96 pickup fee as needed.

"This is just a start up cost; there are some costs that would be
[needed] to maintain it, though they would minimal," she says.

Letters of endorsement from the Society of Living Intravenous Drug
Users (SOLID) and the UVSS Harm Less Club were sent to the board in
March 2011, with both groups expressing their views on how clearly
marked needle depositories would greatly reduce the risk of dangerous
or fatal mishaps.

"Providing people on campus with safe places to dispose of drug use
supplies is safer for the entire population of UVic, including
students and campus workers, by helping to alleviate the risk of
inappropriately discarded syringes," wrote the staff at SOLID.

"Harm reduction, particularly in the realm of needle disposal, leads
to increased health in the community," wrote Daniel Prince, Harm Less
Club's signing officer.

"Our commitment to this project is such that we are prepared to take
the financial responsibility for installation and maintenance of the
proposed needle boxes," he wrote.

Director of Finance and Operations Dylan Sherlock agreed that a simple
and discreet means of disposing needles on campus would pay huge
health dividends for its relatively low start-up cost, adding that the
board should "do [it] without thought."

However, some board members were skeptical of Harm Less Club's offer
to collect dirty needles from the boxes on a volunteer basis without
professional training or supervision.

"I wouldn't feel safe having students, community members or
non-professionals handling [used needles] because it's hazardous
waste," says Director-at-Large David Foster. "This has to have
professional maintenance."

Both Harm Less and SOLID offered to provide volunteer pickup and
disposal in their respective letters.

Having had first-hand experience at a prior job where she was
scratched with a needle hidden between some bedsheets, Director of
Student Affairs Jenn Bowie expressed concern over club members or
other community members being put into the unnecessarily risky
position of collecting needles when the UVSS has an option to hire

She also suggested that the UVSS eat start-up costs in order to
prevent Harm Less from exhausting its budget.

Officially registered clubs receive around a hundred dollars from the
UVSS per semester barring any extra funding obtained from special
projects grants.

"I don't want Harm Less to give up an entire semester's budget for
just one project when they could be putting that money towards greater
outreach," says Bowie.

The $96 pickup contract will go to Green Check, a company unaffiliated
with university janitorial services that specializes in the removal
and transportation of hazardous materials.

The money will be covered by the SUB's Building Operations account and
pickups will be adjusted according to volume.

Almost all science and medical facilities at institutions around
Canada have their own disposal and pickup infrastructure for syringes
and other discarded sharps. By applying the safety procedures of this
lab formality to the commons, the UVSS hopes the new boxes will
encourage both legal and illicit users to take responsible measures in
getting rid of their paraphernalia.

"We are extremely pleased that UVic has joined the ranks with other
North American universities in forming a progressive, pro-active
approach to drug policies," said Prince in his letter. "Initiatives
such as safe needle disposal help to save lives."
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