Applause is due for Temple’s desire to curb underage drinking on campus. However, the impending policy to grant amnesty for students who are hospitalized is a dangerous loophole and fails to face the problem.
If passed, this policy will safeguard a student hospitalized for alcohol poisoning from being arrested, but will still be referred to the University Disciplinary Committee. The policy is meant to encourage people to seek medical attention without fear of arrest. But students who drink to the point of hospitalization and escape arrest might never recognize the gravity of their problem.
On the other hand, cases exist involving people whom this policy was created to protect. Some students get exceedingly drunk their first time and their friends are too scared to call the paramedics for fear of punishment. In this situation, the unconscious student risks serious injury and death.
There’s a way, besides amnesty, to help students in both scenarios. Campus Alcohol and Substance Awareness runs many programs through Tuttleman Counseling Services that educate about the effects and risks of alcohol. A student who requires medical attention for an alcohol-related problem is required to attend a CASA program for the remainder of the semester.
The university’s procedure is not meant to be a “get out of jail free” card. If a student misses a session without an approved reason, they should be sent to the UDC.
Another component of alcohol awareness is being clear about liability. As soon as someone enters an apartment or dormitory, the occupant is responsible for all guests. Therefore, if a student requires medical attention and the host does not call 911 or a taxi for the student, they are held responsible for all ensuing events. Neglecting the care of a student who clearly needs medical attention is criminal negligence and the host should face appropriate ramifications. When it comes to alcohol poisoning and hospitalization, students need to watch after each other. This is a college community; in a community, we are supposed to take care of ourselves and our neighbors.
It is wonderful that Temple wants to help and keep students safe, as well as find new ways of doing so. However, amnesty may do more harm than good in the long run to someone ignorant of alcohol use. Compulsory education has the power to dry up this ubiquitous collegiate problem.
Carolyn Steeves can be reached at email@example.com.