The University is likely not the only college in the country faced with the problem of underage drinking. To address the issue, the state of Michigan upholds a law that states an intoxicated minor seeking medical aid for an underage victim of alcohol poisoning can be convicted for Minor in Possession of alcohol. As a result, students often ignore medical emergencies to avoid getting into legal trouble. A new proposal put forward by the Central Student Government calls for the implementation of medical amnesty at the University, which would allow students under the influence to call authorities to help others without fear of punishment for doing a good deed. The implementation of this initiative would allow students to respond quickly to emergency situations, seek help for others and ultimately save lives.
CSG President DeAndree Watson described medical amnesty as a “huge accomplishment” for the University that would give students an incentive to seek help. A resolution in support of the medical amnesty program was put forth and approved at the CSG meeting Tuesday night. While the resolution calls for the immunity of underage drinkers attempting to help others, it has other provisions, including online alcohol education classes and meetings with the University’s Counseling and Psychological Services.
Medical amnesty initiatives are becoming increasingly popular on college campuses. Cornell University found that there was an increase in calls for alcohol-related emergencies after the implementation of the program. Without the fear of being issued an MIP, more students are taking prompt action to help a friend. Fines and community service time — the general consequences of an MIP — are often insufficient deterrents for students who have access to alcohol. More importantly, fear of such punitive measures is certainly not worth the life of another student. Medical amnesty policies help students distinguish their own situation from the condition of a fellow student in need of medical attention. According to a 2009 article in The Heights, Boston College’s student newspaper, medical amnesty programs have been implemented at more than 90 other colleges and universities in the country.
University policies like the mandatory AlcoholEdu course for incoming undergraduates are only beneficial to an extent. Students remain likely to make reckless and ill-informed decisions, as shown by a 2007 University Student Life Survey, in which 52 percent of undergraduates reported that they participated in binge drinking and 69 percent reported that they had taken care of a drunk person. The University should have a policy that ensures the safety of students who are dangerously inebriated as well as those who look out for them.
Unfortunately, binge drinking is common on many college campuses. Though under no circumstances is such behavior encouraged, any student attempting to aid another should not be punished, regardless of their blood alcohol content. A medical amnesty policy would ensure a more timely reaction on the part of an intoxicated student’s peers and would result in less hesitation before the victim is transported to a hospital. The University should implement the medical amnesty policy because the safety of students needs to be at the forefront.