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Students’ FAQs about BU’s “Good Samaritan” Approach

No penalties for those seeking help unless other crimes involved


When a Terrier seeks help for themselves or others who’ve used alcohol or drugs, neither student will receive a sanction for alcohol or drug use, as long as they complete an educational or counseling program on campus.—BU Lifebook, Medical Emergencies Caused by Drugs and Alcohol and Judicial Sanctioning

This “Good Samaritan” approach encourages students to look out for one another. But BU Wellness & Prevention gets questions from students about what circumstances are and are not covered, the consequences of summoning help, and more. Below, the Wellness & Prevention staff answer those questions.

Why does BU have this approach?

Student safety in emergencies involving alcohol or drug use is paramount. If a BU student gets help for themselves or another Terrier student, they won’t receive disciplinary sanction from the University. This is true even if the students are under 21. The policy applies to both the student who seeks help and the student needing help.

The policy says, “neither student will receive a sanction for alcohol or drug use.” Why is the word “use” underlined?

It emphasizes that the policy applies to a student’s consumption of alcohol or other drugs. The policy does not apply to other code of conduct violations or crimes that may happen, such as vandalism or assault.

It also says that students won’t receive a sanction “as long as they complete an educational or counseling program on campus.” What does that mean?

Students won’t receive a disciplinary sanction. A student may still be required to attend a 90-minute education class or meet with a Wellness counselor. These programs support student well-being and are offered by BU Wellness & Prevention Services.

One terriers make a phone call for another terrier who doesn't look well

Does this apply off campus as well as on campus?


Does it apply just to alcohol?

The policy applies in emergencies involving drug use, alcohol use, or both.

If I think something might be a medical emergency, who should I call?

If you’re on campus, call the Boston University Police Department at 617-353-2121. They know the campus best and respond, on average, in three minutes. If it’s an off-campus emergency, call 911.

How do I know if I should make an emergency call?

If you’re questioning whether someone is having an alcohol or drug emergency, it’s time to call. Signs of an emergency may include being passed out; vomiting frequently; being confused about time, place, or location; or a racing heart rate.

Rich Barlow, Senior Writer, BU Today, Bostonia, Boston University
Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

One Comment on Students’ FAQs about BU’s “Good Samaritan” Approach

  • Anonymous on 10.22.2018 at 9:23 am

    I am thankful that BU has a Good Samaritan setup, and wish more universities had them in place. I cannot stress enough the importance of making the call for someone who you believe is having an emergency related to alcohol or drugs. My brother’s best friend died at a fraternity party at his university due to alcohol poisoning. Instead of calling for help, the people with him at the party placed him in an upstairs bedroom and hoped he would sleep it off.

    The medical examiner told his family that based on their findings, there was a multi-hour window where emergency services could have prevented his death. Instead, people were so concerned about getting in trouble for providing alcohol to someone underage that no one made the call that would have saved his life.

    If you find yourself in a similar situation – please, PLEASE make that call. Words cannot express how devastating the alternative can be.

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