SA continues to refine medical amnesty policy

In an emergency situation involving drugs or alcohol, fear of repercussions from Geneseo’s Conduct Board can prevent a student from calling for help. A recent proposal made by the Student Association executive board is advocating the adoption of a medical amnesty policy on campus. Medical amnesty helps protect individuals who seek emergency medical help for those who need it. According to the SA executive board, adopting this policy on campus would help to protect students––specifically those under 21––who seek medical assistance from punitive student conduct actions that would normally result from the consumption or possession of drugs and alcohol.

The executive board held an open forum in Sturges Auditorium on Wednesday Sept. 17 to get feedback from students, faculty and staff. The forum attracted a limited but vocal audience.

Points raised included amnesty for organizations, as well as the inclusion of a “one-time-only” clause. Student Association President senior Harrison Dole weighed in on medical amnesty for organizations.

“That’s kind of a different animal,” Dole said. “SA isn’t looking to enact a policy to protect student organizations in that way, because we don’t feel it is the role of SA to represent student organizations in that respect.”

While SA Vice President junior Paul Michael said he doesn’t believe that it should be ruled out, the process is one of increments.

“Our primary goal is to get this through the door and get it on the table for discussion for individual students,” Michael said.

As for the one-time-only clause, the general sentiment is that it should be removed, but that the college reserves its right to make its decision on a case-by-case basis.

According to a memorandum from the SA executive board to the chair of the College Senate, Geneseo’s current Responsible Community Action Policy suffers from “weak language” that “breeds into ambiguity.”

The memorandum continues that the revised policy has been structured to “more closely align Geneseo’s standards with those of New York State’s Good Samaritan 911 Law” and thus with the practices of all off-campus police forces.

During the forum, Michael said that the policy was designed to resemble the policy at SUNY Binghamton and is intended to protect and possibly save the lives of Geneseo students.

This is not the first time that the medical amnesty policy has been advocated at Geneseo. The SA executive board made a similar push during the 2012-2013 school year, spearheaded by then-SA Vice President Justin Shapiro ‘13. The policy at that time was approved by the SA executive, but didn’t make it past the College Senate, the next step in the approval process. Still, the SA remains confident that the policy will be more readily accepted this time around.

“The previous medical amnesty proposal never went through SA,” Michael said. “So we feel that as representatives of the student body, this gives it a little more credibility.”

“This is the next step in the process of moving toward improvement,” Dole said. “SA is looking for the policy to reflect the college’s history of looking out for its students and of having their best interests at heart.”

More information on the proposed changes to the medical amnesty policy on campus can be found on SA’s webpage