“Productive” DC trip for Capilouto; spoke on DACA, grad tax, opioid abuse

Rick Childress

UK President Eli Capilouto met with several legislators during a four-day-long sojourn through Washington, D.C. last week.

Capilouto had “very productive conversations,” with many members of the Kentucky Congressional delegation—like Sen. and former presidential candidate Rand Paul and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, according to UK spokesman Jay Blanton. 

They spoke primarily on the future of DACA participants, research into opioid abuse and the effects that the proposed grad tax could have on research.

Capilouto discussed the effects that the tax on tuition waivers could have on research into opioid abuse, as the tax could have negative effects on graduate students who do much of the research.

“Without our more than 7,100 graduate students, UK’s capacity to provide a high-quality undergraduate education and conduct important research would be significantly diminished,” Blanton said.

Capilouto told lawmakers that he hoped that the controversial grad tax would be left out of the final version of the tax bill. 

“We were very pleased with the positive dialogue and interaction with our elected officials, such as Leader McConnell who is so supportive of the work we do at UK,” Blanton said. 

Capilouto was joined by a number of UK’s senior officials and “prolific researchers, particularly in the areas of opioid abuse and addiction,” Blanton said.

Opioid abuse has become an often-discussed topic on the national agenda after President Donald Trump announced in late October that he was taking action against the crisis.

UK is one of the leaders in opioid abuse and addiction research, Blanton said.

Addiction is a disease of despair,” Blanton said. “Victimizing individuals and communities when they are most vulnerable. It does not discriminate by ZIP-code or neighborhood; race or ethnicity—it affects us all.” 

Finally, Capilouto also urged lawmakers to reach a decision on DACA recipients whose future was put into question earlier this year after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the program—which allows many undocumented immigrants to go to college—will soon be phased out.

They, too, want to contribute and serve their communities upon graduation,” Blanton said. “We believe it is critical that Congress act soon to strengthen our nation’s commitment to these students.”