Staff Editorial: Medical amnesty is a sure step for student safety

As a college and as a community, we were shocked and saddened by the loss of Arman Partamian and discomforted by the circumstances of his death.

The event brought the worst kind of attention to the college, and the district attorney's bold campaign to follow up on violations of liquor law has certainly changed the way students and organizations think about using alcohol in a manner that violates state law. The hospitalizations of six students over the past month remind us that alcohol can lead to very serious situations when used in an irresponsible manner.

In addressing the complex issues that can contribute to senseless tragedy, we feel that the college and village should establish a policy of medical amnesty as the state of New Mexico and many colleges including Cornell University and RIT have already done.

Typically, medical amnesty policies protect, from judicial action, students who call for medical assistance when a fellow student experiences severe intoxication or a serious injury after using alcohol. Those students would be required to complete an educational exercise or community service in lieu of traditional disciplinary probation. The policy ensures obtaining care for a sick person will not be second-guessed by those who fear legal liability for providing or possessing alcohol.

Adult students should be held accountable for violating the law when they choose to do so, and we agree that increasing the enforcement of laws effectively deters the most dangerous of drinking activities.

In a moment of crisis, however, there is absolutely nothing more important than human life, and the fear of punishment should never trump the basic right of each individual to immediate medical attention. Students do make stupid, irresponsible and even despicable decisions, and it is important that there be consequences for those decisions, but that consequence can never again be death.

The college and appropriate off-campus entities should give some form of a medical amnesty policy serious consideration, and quickly. Any alternative standard that values discipline over human life is logically unsound, morally wrong and disregardful of what should be our greatest priority: to protect one another from harm.

We now know tragedy and we must do all we can to stop it from affecting us again. The Lamron urges all students and members of the community to support and push for the swift adoption of a medical amnesty policy.