Students may now seek medical amnesty for drug and alcohol related emergencies

Joining many colleges and universities around the country, the College of Charleston made a historic change to its Medical Amnesty Policy; as of Oct. 31, students seeking medical help for both alcohol and drug-related emergencies will be granted conditional amnesty from policy violations. The Student Government Association in coordination with Students for a Sensible Drug Policy worked throughout semester  on a proposal for the amendment which Student Body President Sturman had drafted the year prior. Sturman presented their final product to President McConnell and the Executive Team; passage of this amendment shows an apparent concern for the improvement of student health and safety across campus. 

As of Oct. 31, 2015, Medical Amnesty will be granted to students for usage of alcohol and other drugs (photo courtesy of Adam via the flickr creative commons).

As of Oct. 31, 2015, Medical Amnesty will be granted to students for usage of alcohol and other drugs (photo courtesy of Adam via the flickr creative commons).

So, what does the new policy entail? Well, according to the official College of Charleston Student Handbook, Section 16,

This policy provides that any student who is in need of medical care during an alcohol or other drug- related emergency (as defined in Section 3.2 and from here forward shortened to AOD—alcohol and other drugs), and who receives or actively seeks out such care in a timely fashion, may do so without fear of being subjected to Student Conduct action.

Basically, for the first time in College history, students suffering from the adverse effects of alcohol or other drugs may finally call for help from emergency services without having to worry about punitive action being taken by the College later. The purpose of this policy, as set out by the Student Handbook is to prevent students from calling medical professionals for emergency services out of fear for punitive action, which might follow.  In addition, the policy serves to educate those who suffer from these adverse effects of alcohol and other drugs, as those who receive medical attention also receive education concerning the use of alcohol and drugs in order to make healthier, well-informed decisions in the future.

However, there is one caveat: if calling for medical aid for oneself, conditional amnesty will only be granted on the first offence of drug or alcohol use. Any additional offence will be recorded and proper disciplinary action will be taken. Although, conditional amnesty will always be granted in the case of a “Helper,” or a student calling on behalf of an incapacitated student needing medical attention. Students are always encouraged to call to help others in need.

To gather insider information, CisternYard News reached out to organizations across campus associated with this new change in policy. Daniel Miles from Students for a Sensible Drug Policy outlined the creation process for the change, explaining that the drafting process for this amendment was two years in the making. When asked about controversies surrounding such a policy change, Miles stated, “As with anything when it comes to drug policy, there are always going to be those that argue that any changes to the norm is just going to encourage drug use amongst students, which given any level of scrutiny, doesn’t hold up, and that was one of the biggest contentions that the administration had. Part of the selling process was that we gathered excerpts from other universities that included these changes, showed them, hey, this is actually pretty normal, we’re actually a bit behind the curve.” Despite this one controversy, Miles assured that, “It was mostly a pretty clean slate, there weren’t too many bubbles.”

In addition, CYN also spoke with Kelsey Fervier, the assistant director of personnel for the College of Charleston’s Fire and EMS. As one who works in emergency services and treating students in medical need, Fervier expressed her agreement with the policy change; as the amendment allows for EMS to better take care of the student body. “I think it is really beneficial for us [EMS] and our ability to treat patients, and to make sure that our students are getting the best healthcare possible because we obviously can’t show up to a scene and help somebody if people are too afraid to call, so that’s really nice for us,” Fervier said. “It makes them a lot more willing to comply with us and to get the treatment they need if they understand that there aren’t going to be repercussions necessarily for us being there, and that we just have their best interest in mind.”

This historic amendment to the College of Charleston’s Medical Amnesty Policy is a progressive step forward in the care and concern for its student body. For students who would like to read the fully amended policy, it can be found on this link:


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Scott Harvin is a sophomore Communication major with a minor in International Studies in the Honors College at the College of Charleston. Originally from Sumter, South Carolina, he is thrilled to be able to call the wonderful city of Charleston his new home, where he cannot wait to watch the next three years of his life unfold. Other than his academic career at the College, Scott is also a Resident Assistant in McAlister Residence Hall, a tour guide for Charleston 40, a member of the Student Ambassador Program and a News Contributor for CisternYard News. All of this can only mean two things: first, he knows pretty much anything anyone could ever want to know about the College and second, he never sleeps. Despite this, he still finds time to explore his passions for music, photography and adventure, collecting vinyl records while traveling the southeast with close companions to root out the best experiences, restaurants and events the world has to offer. He does all of this while pursuing his ultimate dream: becoming a journalist for a major news branch, preferably in New York, where he hopes to live out the American Dream. “You may call him a dreamer, but he’s not the only one.”

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