ASU, Governor’s Youth Commission raise awareness of prescription drug abuse during Maroon Ribbon Week

Ryan Magell ASASU

Ryan Magel, chairman of USG’s Government Operations Committee, says the Maroon Week initiative is important because of the impact that prescription drug abuse can have on ASU students and their futures. Photo by Spencer Brown


The Associated Students of Arizona State University have partnered with the Governor’s Youth Commission to help address the opioid crisis in Arizona through their Maroon Ribbon Week project.

From Oct. 23 through Nov. 3, the initiative’s aim is to bring awareness to issues surrounding prescription drug abuse and to promote the use of Medication Return Boxes as a way to safely dispose of expired, unwanted or unused medications.

“ASU's Maroon Ribbon Week is focused on raising awareness of the ‘4-1-1 on Safe Medication Practices for Life’,” said Karen Moses, director of Health and Wellness Promotion for ASU Health Services. “Together, the Governor's Youth Commission, Undergraduate Student Government, Changemaker Central, Zero Waste Management, Recovery Rising, the wellness PlayMakers and other ASU students and staff will promote properly using, securing and disposing of medications to help reduce opiate misuse and addiction within our community and across Arizona.”

The cohort of high school and college students have collaborated with schools, community leaders, government officials and law enforcement to implement innovative solutions to these problems. 

In recognition of these student-led efforts, a proclamation was co-developed by Undergraduate Student Government and the Governor's Youth Commission and approved by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey declaring Oct. 26 through Nov. 3 as Opioid Drop Off Availability Awareness Week.

The concept for Maroon Ribbon Week came from Elijah Rusk, a junior at Skyview High School in Buckeye and executive commissioner for the GYC. Rusk is also a member of the GYC’s Substance Abuse Committee.

He said the committee works to make others aware of the dangers of opioid misuse. It is also a personal passion, as he has witnessed how it affects people in the community, including his own family.

“Our committee believes it surpasses one’s physicality and infiltrates other aspects of an individual’s life. It’s damaging not just to them and their families, but to their community and society as a whole,” Rusk said.

He said the committee looks for innovative solutions aimed at current issues in American culture related to youth and drug abuse — a mission that dovetailed with the university’s ethos.

“We wanted to work with ASU because of its focus on impacting society and we knew they would take innovative actions to address prescription drug abuse,” Rusk said.

Governor's Youth Commission

Governor's Youth Commission. Photo courtesy of Nikki Green

Ryan Magel, a junior double majoring in economics and political science and chairman of USG’s Government Operations Committee, worked with the Governor's Youth Commission on behalf of ASU to develop the initiative. He feels it’s important because of the impact that prescription drug abuse can have on ASU students and their futures.

“Students and community members have their own struggles, but one of the great things about ASU is that we come together and help each other to overcome these struggles. There are many amazing events (during Maroon Ribbon Week) that are not only fun but educational and make a huge impact,” Magell said.

Along with an awareness campaign that has been promoted throughout ASU’s four campuses, the week’s events have included student panel discussions, a community service project and PlayMaker activities

A Maroon Ribbon Week sticker is also available at all campus health services, counseling services, Sun Devil Fitness Centers, housing front desks and dean’s offices. At the Tempe campus, they are also available at Sun Devil Athletics and the Memorial Union, and will be available during the Homecoming Block party at EOSS Tailgates, and the Changemaker, Recovery Rising and Zero Waste Management tents.

The week will culminate with a formal presentation of the proclamation to take place during pre-game at ASU’s Homecoming football game on Nov. 3. A PSA developed by ASU’s Student Creative Services and the Governor's Youth Commission will also be screened during the game.

“We are a university within a community with certain responsibilities for its health and well-being. That is a large part of the ASU charter so Maroon Ribbon Week is a good way for us to make an impact and really make the world a better place,” Magel said.

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