Do BU Students Need Medical Amnesty?
Students react to Emerson’s policy change
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BU Today asked students whether they believe BU needs a medical amnesty policy. Click the slide show above to hear their responses. Elizabeth Thomforde (SHA’09). Taylor Aldredge (COM’10). Vicki Han (COM’09). Jordan Rossman (CAS’12). Photos by Edward A. Brown and Kimberly Cornuelle.
Emerson College announced a new medical amnesty policy yesterday, allowing students seeking medical assistance for alcohol- and drug-related emergencies to be shielded from school disciplinary measures if they are found to be intoxicated when calling for help. The amnesty applies both to students seeking assistance for themselves or for others and to students receiving it.
Approximately 90 other schools, including Harvard and Northeastern, have such policies. Boston University does not provide medical amnesty for students, but the Student Union is calling on the BU administration to consider enacting a policy to ensure that students can seek out medical treatment without fear of reprisal.
“The problem is that if someone goes to an RA because they’re drunk or high, they’re afraid they will lose housing or scholarships or be expelled,” says Matt Seidel (CAS’10), president of the Student Union. “Friends are taking a sick person to a hospital really far away instead of calling an ambulance. It’s dangerous, because they’re putting their friend’s health in danger because they don’t want to get in trouble.”
Boston University’s policy imposes disciplinary sanctions on students and employees who violate University standards of conduct, which may include expulsion or termination of employment, referral for criminal prosecution, or mandated participation in a treatment, counseling, or other approved rehabilitation program. Conviction may result in fines, imprisonment, and revocation of, or loss of eligibility to receive, federal funding.
Seidel says that students often assume the worst about judicial sanctions, fearing expulsion or arrest. “There’s a strong belief that you will be punished for reporting an incident,” he says. “Until there’s an actual policy, every student will still believe that BU has zero tolerance and will put themselves in danger.”
The Student Union also supports the University’s adoption of a Request to Invoke form, a form that students fill out after an incident has occurred requesting disciplinary exemption.
“I think it’s important to foster a much more honest discussion about alcohol and drugs on campus and encourage people to put health first,” Seidel says. “It will make for a healthier and safer campus.”
For more information about the Student Union’s position on medical amnesty, click here.5 Comments