Student group pushes for “Good Samaritan” policy on campus

The policy, proposed by the Students for Sensible Drug Policy will make it more difficult for law enforcement to arrest an individual who is intoxicated.
November 02, 2009

The Students for Sensible Drug Policy group is preparing to propose a “Good Samaritan” policy for the University of Minnesota, which would allow students to contact emergency services if a friend is dangerously intoxicated without facing legal consequences.
Similar policies are already in place at more than 100 schools across the country, but the University would be the first Big Ten school to implement such a policy.
But SSDP is not proposing to let intoxicated students completely off the hook. The policy would have the student or students involved attend an alcohol education workshop class that is already employed at the University. Those programs would take the place of legal repercussions.
“We’re simply improving the policy that is already there,” SSDP member Aaron Halfaker said.
No formal proposal has been written, and Housing and Residential Life program coordinator Katie Eichele said the University has not taken a stance yet.
Group members hope to talk to University administrators about their plan by the end of the week.
Most schools that already have the policy require all the students involved to take a class about drugs and alcohol or to meet with the dean of students while others are considered on a case by case basis.
Cornell University implemented a similar policy in 2002. Since then, Cornell has experienced twice the number of emergency calls, while the level of alcohol abuse has remained steady, according to a study published by the International Journal of Drug Policy in 2006.
“We want students to call,” University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said. “Our primary focus is to get them medical attention.”
Miner said the University police department is not opposed to the policy, but they hope that it would not be abused if it was implemented.
“It’s been knock-on-wood for a couple of years now,” Miner said.
In 2007, a first-year student died after he fell from the third floor of the Oak Street Ramp after walking back from a party intoxicated.
Two university students were later charged with supplying alcohol to the student at a party.
Students often fear losing their housing status or being arrested if they call for help.
“It shouldn’t affect their decision making in the emergency,” Halfaker said. “This is not a ‘get-out-of-jail’ free card … we’re in favor of education too.”

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