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Overdose Prompts UC Berkeley Co-Op To Go Drug Free

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Students walk near Sather Gate on the University of California at Berkeley campus. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

MelissaCulross_180 Melissa Culross
Melissa Culross had intended to become a novelist but was side-lined...
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BERKELEY (KCBS) – Next fall, UC Berkeley’s largest student cooperative will be a drug-free living space with an almost entirely new membership, the result of a massive settlement stemming from an overdose at the residence three years ago.

The changes at Cloyne Hall are coming despite a campaign by the current students who live there to convince the university they could address drug use and abuse in the residence, after a student suffered brain damage from a drug overdose in 2010.

The Berkeley Student Cooperative’s board of directors voted Friday to evict all but one of the 150 students now living there, and reconstitute Cloyne Hall as an academic-themed residence in the 2014-15 school year.

Cloyne’s insurance company had threatened to revoke coverage over a nearly $1 million settlement it paid in a lawsuit over medical expenses incurred by the family John Bennett Gibson, the student who overdosed.

“The insurance company that had to pay me decided that the current policies at Cloyne were not working, and that if they had to pay out again, they were going to cancel,” said Madelyn Bennett, the young man’s mother.

Besides providing constant care for her son, Bennett has also had to contend with anger from those who do not want to see the co-op changed.

“I am getting hate e-mail, hate mail, hate phone calls. People hate me. This morning, I got the most obscene e-mail that I’ve ever gotten, including from my brother,” she said.

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