Medical amnesty is election hot topic

Student Association senators and presidential candidates are putting pressure on the University to adopt a medical amnesty policy, one of the most talked about topics of this campaign season.

The desired policy would ensure that students who call University Police or EMeRG, for medical assistance are not sanctioned by Student Judicial Services. Currently, inebriated students who are underage and seek medical assistance will receive a visit from UPD when they call EMeRG. and they can be punished by SJS for alcohol violations. About 20 percent of students transported to the hospital for over consumption admitted themselves or were brought by friends.

“There is currently no medical amnesty policy,” said Tara Wolfson, director of SJS. “Each case is reviewed on a case by case basis and charges are assessed when appropriate.”

Former presidential candidate and Sen. Hilary Golston (CCAS-U) is working to create a policy based on similar programs at Cornell and Carnegie Mellon universities. Such policies guarantee the freedom from a sanction for both the caller of an alcohol-related incident and the victim. The programs also put in place harsher sanctions for students who fail to call for help when a student is ill.

“I would hope that the University can adopt a program similar if not slightly altered from these,” said Golston, who dropped out of the presidential race Friday.

Golston said the goal behind medical amnesty would be to prevent severe injury to students who are reluctant to call for help. She added that at least three SA presidential candidates have made the proposed rule an important campaign issue.

“The attention says that this is the most important thing the University can do that will really make students feel better,” Golston said.

Wolfson said SJS received an amnesty proposal from EMeRG and is in discussions with UPD Chief Dolores Stafford on implementation.

Stafford declined to comment on the likelihood of the University adopting the policy that is being pushed by members of the SA.

Golston said she is optimistic the University will work to enact a protective policy for students seeking medical care of alcohol abuse.

“I think it is definitely possible to get this done,” Golston said. “It may be more possible than the administration and some students feel it is.”

Several SA presidential candidates have promised they would fight for medical amnesty if elected, including juniors Jon Ostrower and Sen. Ben Traverse (CCAS-U). A number of prospective senators have also stated that they are in support of the movement.

“The bottom line is that EMeRG is our campus ambulance service, and students should never have to second guess their decision to call for help if they need it,” Traverse said. “They should never have to be afraid to seek out help for themselves or their friends, and right now students are living in a state of fear.”

-Michael Barnett contributed to this report.

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