To the Daily:
The Daily’s recent editorial about exempting intoxicated minors from legal repercussions when seeking medical attention overlooked some key factors when calling for the state Senate’s action on the Good Samaritan bill (The safe call for Michigan, 02/15/2010).
The attention-grabbing first line of the editorial, “An individual shouldn’t be punished for doing the right thing,” fails to negotiate the other side of the discussion. The individual currently being punished under existing laws is an underage adult consuming alcohol illegally. Why does someone breaking a law deserve to be protected? Perhaps the drinking age should be lowered, but by making the decision to drink illegally, minors are immediately in danger of facing legal trouble and are accepting responsibility for any situation that arises.
Should this be the avenue we take to corral college binge drinking? The Michigan Student Assembly, by petitioning the state government, thinks so. By accepting the fact that college students will continue to drink inordinate amounts of alcohol, we are surrendering the fight to curb the lethal behavior.
An increase in 9-1-1 calls at Cornell University, which is cited in MSA’s resolution to support the Good Samaritan bill, may be a result of the law being passed. Increased 9-1-1 calls at Cornell University may also be a result of an increase in underage drinking due to the law being passed. Without the danger of potentially getting in trouble for calling for help from a friend, one might ascertain minors will drink more freely.
So where should we look to fight the deadly game of college binge drinking? Passing the Good Samaritan bill is not the answer we need. It forfeits our ability to successfully attack binge drinking, the root cause of alcohol-related deaths. Admitting defeat to the higher educational problem of alcohol is not in the best interest of the University, nor does it follow its role as “in loco parentis.”