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Phil Matier: Cal Reconsidering Hands-Off Policy With Student Co-Op After Overdose Settlement

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UC Berkeley, Cal

The UC Berkeley campus. (UC Berkeley)

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BERKELEY (KCBS) — A UC Berkeley student cooperative is reconsidering a permissive drug policy after a near million-dollar settlement with the family of Josh Gibson, a student, who needs around-the-clock care since he suffered an overdose at Cloyne Court in 2010.

That case and other incidents of rape and sexual battery in recent years have UC Berkeley rethinking its relationship with the Berkeley Student Cooperative.

One of the reasons they are getting serious about cleaning this place up, making it a drug-and alcohol-free setting, is because of the insurance—they could lose it. Should anything like this happen again, after a liability pay out like this, the attorneys will descend taking depositions and ask, “What have you changed since?”

A negligent pattern will reveal itself and any settlement after would be doubled.

The Berkeley Student Cooperative, which has nearly 1,275 people living in 20 residences around the campus, is an interesting institution. And Cloyne Court has the reputation of being sort of a wild, artsy, free-wheeling place.

It’s sort of an “Animal House” meets academia. There are a lot of bright people there but for there have been problems for years—before and after Gibson’s overdose—as reported in Nannette Asimov’s piece in Wednesday’s Chronicle.

Gibson’s room was called “The Pharmacy” and according to the deposition, they were doing a pretty healthy trade in LSD, ecstasy and other drugs—which he used himself and eventually overdosed with. Gibson ended up brain damaged after calls to 911 were purposefully delayed.

It’s situations like this that have lawyers gathering and parents digging, and it’s the BSC that’s left wrestling with rectifying what happened and preventing it from happen again.

There is also the quasi-relationship between the school, a large and venerable institution, and the student cooperative—who is really in charge of ensuring that another incident like this is never repeated?

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