Alcohol amnesty policy signed into Golden Rule
Published: Monday, June 25, 2012
Updated: Monday, June 25, 2012 09:06
Do you think the new policy will work?
Starting today, students may no longer have to fear the consequences that could result from calling for help when an alcohol-related injury occurs on campus.
“All students are responsible for adhering to the Rules of Conduct as described in the Golden Rule Student handbook,” Vice President of Student Development and Enrollment Services Maribeth Ehasz said in a press release. “However, the safety of our students is always our No. 1 priority.”
The new protocol is the result of several years of work by UCF administration and students to create a healthy environment among the student body and address the negative impact alcohol abuse has on the community.
Nikki Ventura, a senior majoring in nursing, believes it is not just the fear of consequences but the ignorance toward alcohol that keeps college students from calling for help in an emergency situation.
“College students don’t pay attention to how much they drink sometimes and honestly probably don’t care,” Ventura said. “Although, if students aren’t in fear of getting in trouble then that might cause them to get help when they really need it.”
UCF has been combating this ignorance toward alcohol as best as possible. The first steps toward creating a more alcohol-aware environment began in fall 2008 when an alcohol education program was made mandatory for all first-year incoming students. The program, called AlcoholEdu, is an interactive science-based course that uses quizzes and case studies to educate students on the effects of alcohol. Since this program has been in effect, UCF has become a national leader in alcohol education.
National Health Institute statistics reveal nearly 1,700 college students die each year from alcohol-related injuries. Additionally, a whopping 599,000 college students are unintentionally injured each year while under the influence of alcohol.
Biomedical major Kiara Rodriguez, 19, said she would be more likely to call for help once this protocol is in effect.
“If my friend was in critical condition [from drinking], I would definitely call for help, especially knowing there wouldn’t be any consequences,” Rodriguez said. “It would be selfish of me not to. You still have to remember someone else’s life is in your hands.”
The institution of the AEP does not mean students will get off completely scot-free, though. UCF cannot exempt a student from consequences by law enforcement agencies for violation of state and federal laws. The program strictly pertains to the UCF administration and deals only with the UCF student conduct court.
Also, even when a student alcohol emergency incident meets the conditions for exemption, the student must still meet with the Office of Student Conduct to discuss further action, outside of disciplinary, that is to take place. These actions will replace student conduct charges and consist of a referral to the Wellness and Health Promotions Office for alcohol education intervention.
Medical amnesty policies in colleges have become a steadily increasing trend in the United States. UCF will join other colleges such as Harvard University, Clemson University and the University of Florida, which already have “Good Samaritan” policies in effect.
The reason these policies are not spreading quickly throughout American higher education is because there is little to prove their efficacy. Opponents of the amnesty policies believe they blur the rules concerning alcohol at colleges and students will mistake the policy as a “get-out-of-jail-free card.” So far, research of whether such policies actually help or hurt has been inconclusive.
“The goal is to create a culture of care where it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the health and safety of all UCF Knights,” UCF News & Information Coordinator Zenaida Kotala said in an email press release. UCF’s new Alcohol Emergency Protocol provides students who receive or call for alcohol-related medical assistance exemption from violations of the Rules of Conduct.
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