The University has adopted a new medical amnesty policy that will allow some students to receive medical attention for alcohol-related problems without receiving disciplinary action.
In order for students to benefit from the program, the incident must be their first transportation to the hospital for alcohol and they must not be violating any other parts of the Code of Student Conduct. Instead of being processed through Student Judicial Services, the Center for Alcohol and other Drug Education will coordinate an administrative and educational program, according to a letter received Tuesday by The Hatchet. There will be no resulting judicial record.
“The safety and well-being of our students is always our primary concern, and even though we already have numerous students making the call for their friends and for themselves, I feel this policy will eliminate any hesitation on the part of students to call for medical assistance for a friend who is in need,” CADE director Brian Hamluk said in a news release.
Some students are questioning just how far the amnesty extends. Hillary Golston, a former Student Association senator and writer of legislation that lobbied the University to implement a medical amnesty program, said that amnesty should extend to those who call for medical assistance. In the University’s news release, there was no mention of amnesty for those who contact EMeRG or might be around when they arrive on scene. Students reported hearing in hall meetings that University officials would make an effort to provide amnesty to those who call for help but could not make a blanket statement. University officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
“I think (this policy) is a step in the right direction,” sophomore Peter Rubenstein said. “Whoever is there when EMeRG or whoever arrives won’t get in trouble, that should probably happen.”
Rubenstein is not alone in being unsure about the exact details of the policy. Golston is also awaiting a meeting with SJS officials to determine if the policy meets what she defines as medical amnesty. Part of this meeting will be to better understand the fate of these students who call for medical help and to understand the ramifications for both first-time and repeat offenders, Golston said.
“I think medical amnesty would mean that you are exempt from judicial sanctions, depending on the circumstance, this is why I want to talk to Terra,” Golston said.
Golston said she hopes that the University will make an effort to inform all students of the new policy.
“I don’t know what information campaign is going on or if they reaching out to students, or if it’s in handbooks, or if the code has been updated online,” she said.
Hamluk said the University is hoping that the policy will make GW a safer place.
“One of the major components that we stress about the consumption of alcohol is the responsibility that comes with its use.” Hamluk said, “And I believe that this new policy will encourage students to continue to be response in calling for their peers who are in need, and also calling for themselves.”