Campus News

Student senator works to reform medical amnesty

By: Andrew Koch ~Campus News Editor~

Student senator Andrew Redd is leading an initiative that will change how the university handles issues of medical amnesty.

Medical amnesty is the softening of legal punishments in medical emergencies. In this context, the term refers to what punishments (if any) are leveled against underage students who call for medical help when another underage student has been consuming unsafe amounts of alcohol.

The initiative, which has the slogan “Make the call that counts,” plans to change university policy regarding how students who call for medical attention for another underage, intoxicated student will be punished.

Under current university policy, an underage student who has been drinking and calls for medical help can face academic sanctions and have the situation recorded on their permanent record. The underage student suffering from alcohol-related medical conditions (such as alcohol poisoning) can also face academic sanctions and fines. Both students can be required to attend a special class related to underage drinking.

While the existing policy already reduces university sanctions on underage drinking in these circumstances, Redd hopes to further reduce sanctions against both the student who calls and the student in need of help.

In Redd’s proposal, the calling student will need to meet with the administration to discuss the incident, but the event will not appear on their permanent record. Similarly, the student requiring medical assistance will not face academic sanctions or need to pay fines, but will still be required to attend an alcohol class and the incident will appear on their permanent record.

The new medical amnesty initiative is currently being examined by legal counsel. According to Redd, some form of the new policy will be officially implemented next school year.

To promote the initiative, Redd hosted a speech by Norm and Dawn Finbloom, whose teenaged son Brett died of alcohol poisoning after his friends neglected to call for medical assistance two years ago, on Jan. 28.

“(The change in policy) doesn’t encourage drinking. This encourages safety,” Redd said. “We don’t want to punish people for doing the right thing.”