Overdose death prompts discussion on UW-La Crosse campus

19-year-old Connor Glynn died from drug overdose in April

The death of a UW-La Crosse student from a drug overdose this past April is prompting a closer look at drug prevention efforts on campus.

A medical report released Tuesday said a combination of heroin and anti-anxiety medicine caused the death of 19-year-old Connor Glynn in April.

Since then, the campus is looking at ways to stop drug and alcohol use, hoping to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again.

Like the situation at many universities around the Midwest, senior Scott Patterson believes UW-La Crosse has a drinking culture.

When it comes to illegal drugs on campus, such as heroin in Glynn’s case, it’s something Patterson found hard to believe.

“It’s more shocking when people heard rumors that it was heroin and a mixture of other drugs,” he said.

Kate Noelke works with students on a variety of health issues, such as drug and alcohol addiction.

“The students who have responded, the RA’s who are in the residence halls who are helping students who live on campus interact with the community, and with their relationships and see them every day and came to me and said, ‘Kate, what could we have done better, how could we identify?'”

She said while there are plenty of opportunities to receive help for addiction on campus, the key is to help other students understand how to identify the problem.

“I can’t train an R-A to identify prescription drug use unless it’s right out in front of them,” Noelke said. “Moving forward we are going to focus more on essential skills of bystander intervention.”

Bystander intervention training is helping make conversations between students about things such as drug use more comfortable.

“What you can do is not be afraid, as a student, a friend, when one of your friends is doing something you know or question. I can teach you, or I can help share with you about empowerment so that you have the skills to say, ‘I’m afraid for you when you behave that way.'” Noelke said.

It’s something Patterson hopes all students can do going forward.

“I think it’s your responsibility as a human being to step in and make your presence feel heard,” Patterson said.

Campus officials say there are many prevention programs going on right now that discourage drug and alcohol use.

They said there’s help for those who have an addiction, the key is having other students step in and intervene when necessary.