Dean of Students Responds to Amnesty Proposal
Says rumor mill’s version of University practice is inaccurate
Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore has dismissed the need for an immediate change that would guarantee blanket amnesty for students who seek medical attention because of alcohol or drug use.
In a five-page letter sent Monday to Matt Seidel (CAS’10) in response to the Student Union president’s call for a change in policy, Elmore explained, “When the University learns of a student’s illegal possession or use of alcohol or drugs as a result of that student’s seeking medical assistance for him- or herself, or another person, that student ordinarily will not be subject to University disciplinary sanctions … so long as the student completes all education and counseling programs recommended by the University.”
In an interview with BU Today, Elmore said persistent rumors suggesting that students who seek medical help for alcohol- or drug-related emergencies are routinely dismissed from University housing, or from school, are not true.
“We don’t kick people out of school because they drink too much the first time, even if they are under 21,” he said. “Most students who seek help for themselves or for friends undergo our alcohol assessment program and our disciplinary program and are not in trouble again. They are still in school, and they continue their lives here.”
Elmore said the University strives to treat people as individuals. “At the same time,” he said, “people have to remember that they have to be accountable for their actions and not create circumstances where there is risk to their health and safety.”
The dean’s letter to Seidel said that in cases involving sexual assault or abuse, the student who was abused would not be subject to discipline. He also told Seidel that the University would review its current policies and practices concerning disciplinary sanctions at the end of the current academic year.
Seidel said he was pleased that the University was making an effort “to be more transparent,” and he applauded the decision to excuse from disciplinary action students who have suffered sexual abuse in an alcohol-related incident. But the Student Union president, who had urged BU to follow the lead of Harvard, Northeastern, and most recently, Emerson in promising that students seeking medical assistance for alcohol- and drug-related emergencies would be shielded from school disciplinary measures if they are found to be intoxicated when calling for help, said he still hoped that the University would adopt a policy that would allow all students to come forward without a threat of disciplinary action.
“They are still saying ‘ordinarily’ students won’t be punished,” said Seidel. “But ‘ordinarily’ isn’t a guarantee. ‘Ordinarily’ is basically saying, ‘We may still punish you,’ and in that sense, nothing has really changed. The issue is about trust. Students want to trust that if they come forward, they won’t be punished, and you can’t have complete trust in an environment where they use the word ‘ordinarily.’”
Seidel also said he thought it was great that the administration planned to review its policies concerning marijuana, sexual assault, and medical amnesty.
“Clearly, we’ve shaken things up a bit,” he said. “We got the administration to realize the immensity of this problem. I feel that it’s a good start and a good process, but the fight goes on. I am determined to see a medical amnesty policy at BU.”
Additional reporting by Amy Laskowski.17 Comments