After years of hard work and student lobbying, Geneseo implemented the Responsible Community Action Policy into the school’s Code of Conduct in the fall 2013 semester. The policy was voted on in May. The Responsible Community Action Policy codifies a previously unofficial policy. Under this, if you call for help for a friend who had been drinking and you happen to be drinking underage, the school will not penalize you for underage drinking.
“It’s supposed to go along with the Stand Up aspect for Geneseo,” Student Association Vice President senior Katie Becker said. “This is just another aspect of that policy, so students can take care of each other without the fear of getting in trouble for calling for help for someone else.”
Since this policy is included in the school’s Code of Conduct, it can only prevent the person calling for help from getting in trouble with the school. It does not come into play when calling the police for help. Although this is the case, Becker explained that New York State has a Good Samaritan Law that protects anyone who calls 911 to report emergencies concerning underage drinking and drug overdoses.
While the Responsible Community Action Policy guarantees that the person calling for help will not get in trouble for alcohol consumption, some students still feel the need to ensure that they will not be penalized for their efforts to help a friend.
“A misconception of the policy is that students had been invoking the name of the policy when they called. So they would say ‘Hi, my name is X and I’m calling on behalf of the medical amnesty policy,’” Becker said. “That’s not necessary; if the circumstances are right, it’s going to be automatically implemented; you don’t have to say the name of the policy.”
After spending three years working to implement this policy, Becker said one of her main concerns this year will be spreading the word about the policy; however, she is not the only person on campus interested in spreading the word about this Code of Conduct change.
“It’s up to our RAs and the OAs to help spread that word,” Vice President of Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio said. “We have promulgated it in educational sessions that we’ve had for our student-athletes. We’ve promulgated it during the hazing week and any time a student has an interaction with our Drug and Alcohol Coordinator Sarah Covell, she explains it, so there’s lots of different points for getting the word out.”
Becker explained that it was not just current students who wanted this policy but prospective ones and their families as well. She mentioned that she has friends who are tour guides that would get asked if Geneseo had a Medical Amnesty policy, and up until last spring, they had to say no.
“I remember I was surprised the school didn’t have a policy like this when I came here as a freshman, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, so I think it’s only natural for students to expect a college to have this in writing even though it was already done through practice,” SA President senior Forrest Regan said.
“At its heart, this is a policy that can only benefit students to have,” Becker said. “It focuses entirely on their safety and promoting community and having students call on behalf of each other and taking care of each other. It’s another aspect of the community-building culture here at Geneseo.”