Howe: Livingston County DA endangers students

There is so much wrong with what Tom Moran, district attorney of Livingston County, is trying to do to combat binge drinking at Geneseo, I do not know where to begin. I am writing this in response to the story that was recently aired on about the "crackdown" at Geneseo, as well as the actions taken by Moran, in light of the events that have occurred over the past year in our town.

I am currently a student at Geneseo and have spoken with the head of the Lauderdale Health Center on campus, as well as the interim police chief of campus security about the issue of binge drinking. I spoke with them at the end of last semester, before the DA instated the new "crackdown" policies.

The increased punishments enforced, as well as the threats imposed on students have created a much more dangerous atmosphere rather than making it a safer and healthier environment. When I talked with the head of University Police, we discussed the repercussions of having a student who was 21 years old or over call for help when there is someone who is under the age of 21 involved.

At Geneseo, this is a very common occurrence seeing as though many juniors and seniors are 20 and 21. According to the head of UP, there is no protection under the law for a 21-year-old student who calls for medical help on behalf of an intoxicated minor.

There is no "Good Samaritan Law" set in place to protect the interests of a 21-year-old student who is concerned about the health and well-being of a friend. Geneseo is very closely intertwined with UP, as well as the Geneseo Police Department, Livingston County Sheriffs and NYS Troopers, and therefore, a student's record will permanently show that they were involved in an underage drinking incident.

The most disturbing policy change that Geneseo students face as we return from break is the enforcement of a mandatory appearance before a grand jury. According to the news story that aired Jan. 6, "Any underage student taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning has to testify in front of a grand jury" with the goal being to "get to the source" of binge drinking and alcohol use.

In the same story, Moran was quoted as saying, "At least you'll be drinking with friends and friends will take care of you." His thinking is flawed.

This new policy of mandating an appearance in front of and testifying before a grand jury by those taken to the hospital only decreases the likelihood that an ambulance will be called when there is a medical emergency.

With the new punishments set in place, the likelihood that a student will call an ambulance is close to none, thus, when medical attention is needed, fear of being punished will dominate the decision to call for help or not, rather than the health and well-being of a friend.

Arman Partamian died because no one called when he needed medical assistance - this policy the DA is enforcing will only encourage similar results.Moran has created an environment where erring on the side of caution is met with harsh punishments and a criminal record. No student will err on the side of caution in Geneseo anymore. There will be more unsafe situations, more covert parties, more drinking alone, fewer trips to the hospital and potentially more deaths.