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Leaders request medical amnesty

LIZ O'DONNELL | Friday, February 19, 2010

Student Senate passed a resolution recommending that the University adopt a policy that would grant medical amnesty to any student caught breaking school rules while assisting another student in need of help.

Student body president Grant Schmidt said the topic has been debated in student government for a long time but was finally passed at Wednesday’s two-hour long session.

If the policy is formally adopted by administrators, a student who is actively seeking medical treatment for a friend while breaking a school rule would not be penalized by Residence Life and Housing for his or her actions.

The resolution leaves open the opportunity for Residence Life and Housing to educate the student, for example by placing him or her in alcohol classes. The student would not, however, garner any form of disciplinary record for the occurrence.

Schmidt said this is an attempt to eliminate the deterrent of being sanctioned by Residence Life and Housing.

“The reality of the situation is that there are people out who have disciplinary records because they have made the choice to help people,” he said.

The resolution will accompany a set of recommendations student government makes to the Office of Student Affairs, who is currently considering revisions of du Lac.

Student body vice president Cynthia Weber said while the issue is complex, few people disagree with the philosophy behind the policy.

“The ideal policy is to make a provision for the person who needs the help,” she said. “[The student] isn’t only thinking about herself, but whether or not the person who needs help is going to get in trouble.”

The medical amnesty policy, as requested in the resolution, would not extend to the student who was in need of assistance while breaking school rules. Senators debated full coverage, but ultimately decided against it.

“The reason why we didn’t ask for that outright is that we’re worried the policy would be abused,” Weber said. “If the policy is gradually implemented it lessens the possibility for that to happen.”

Senator Nick Ruof, who worked on the resolution, said student government approached the topic by taking baby steps.

“Other schools have policies where it covers both the person in the emergency and the person who’s seeking help,” he said. “The stats on those schools aren’t very well proven though.”

Weber said the policy is important because it allows for students to focus on the emergency of the situation rather than worry about external factors.

“This policy says we acknowledge we should care about other people before ourselves, and that we will care,” she said.

Weber cited a student body survey last year where 85.6 percent of students answered “yes” or “sometimes” when asked, “Before calling NDSP or residence hall staff to help treat someone, do you consider any disciplinary consequences that might incur as a result of the call?”

Senators also debated whether or not they should formally include adding an educational component to the bill. This was also ultimately decided against.

Schmidt said the policy would ideally be implemented in time for the start of the 2010-11 academic school year.

“We will send this to Fr. Poorman in the Office of Student Affairs and Jeff Shoup at the Office of Residence Life and Housing,” he said. “We’d like to see this policy put into du Lac and ready to go by the time the freshman get their books next fall.”