How we learn from Sidney McIntyre-Starko’s death

Message from President Kevin Hall

On Jan. 23, 2024, Sidney McIntyre-Starko—a first-year student living in residence—was exposed to BC’s toxic drug supply. She died in hospital a few days later, devastating our community and leaving us all shaken.  

We have learned difficult but important lessons from the events surrounding Sidney’s death and are committed to ensuring this tragedy leads to meaningful and lasting change. The actions we’ve taken, and are committed to take, include: 


  • At my direction, we will conduct an external independent review to ensure that Sidney’s tragic death catalyzes real change that will make campuses safer for students, staff and faculty, here at the University of Victoria and across our province.
  • I have tasked the Provost with mobilizing a Steering Committee and appointing a Special Advisor to convene a panel of experts to provide evidence-based recommendations that will improve institutional systems, processes, communications, training and education with respect to overdose prevention and response. The full report from the Special Advisor will also include the report and recommendations of the independent reviewer and will be provided to me in writing.

Naloxone Availability and Training 

  • We are installing 89 opioid overdose emergency kits, which include nasal naloxone, in all residence common areas by mid-August. These emergency kits will be easily accessible in visible public areas, and on every floor or lounge depending on building layouts. Residence students will receive information on the closest emergency kit in their community as part of their orientation and move-in information.
  • We will provide education and awareness materials on the emergency-response boxes for all 3,000 students arriving in residence this September and provide training for all student residence-life staff on the use of overdose emergency kits.


  • We have implemented a new Campus Security standard-operating procedure for contacting 911.
  • We are working with emergency services providers and our municipal partners to develop a plan to assist emergency services in locating individuals in distress. This may include the use of a unique address for each building.
  • We will supplement training with appropriate in-house programming to ensure best practices in responding to drug overdoses on campus.
  • We will ensure all communications with incoming residence students (online, pre-arrival, and in-person orientation) and the Community Living Handbook are updated to include a new section on harm-reduction and safety supports.

The BC government has also created an Overdose Prevention and Response Steering Committee comprised of representatives from post-secondary institutions in the province. Kristi Simpson, vice-president finance and operations, is representing the university on this committee. We anticipate their work will produce a list of guidelines for all post-secondary institutions in BC that will complement work already underway at UVic.


Kevin Hall, President and Vice-Chancellor


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Keywords: administrative, overdose prevention

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