Alcohol ruling raises questions
April 6, 2007
__Freshman put on probation for calling 911 when his roommate vomited blood__
Despite the College’s new amnesty policy, a College freshman received a probationary sentence from both the College and the commonwealth of Virginia for underage consumption of alcohol early this semester. The student called 911 Jan. 22 when his roommate began vomiting blood after consuming alcohol.
p. “I woke up at four in the morning and heard [my roommate] throwing up,” the freshman told The Flat Hat. “I smelled something funny and got a friend. We turned on the light and saw a lot, a lot of blood. At that point I called the paramedics.”
p. According to the freshman, who requested that his name be withheld, he had a considerable quantity of alcohol in his room, information that he volunteered to the police. “I was fully cooperative with the police and they said that in their report,” he said.
p. Soon after, the student received an e-mail from the Dean of Students Office.
p. “I went before the area director and got put on two semesters probation [from the College] and six months probation from Virginia, alcohol education from the school and alcohol education from James City County,” he said.
p. The case raises questions about the extent of the College’s new alcohol amnesty policy.
p. “I was told that the alcohol amnesty policy did not apply to me because [the incident] was so serious,” the freshman said. “I’m not doing this interview to whine — I definitely did something wrong — but I think there should be clarification of the alcohol amnesty policy … Since I was told that it didn’t apply to me, who would it apply to? I think I would fit the policy,” he added.
p. Student Assembly President-elect Zach Pilchen seemed to agree with the student.
p. “Not only had he been written up by Campus Police, but the Dean of Students Office had put him on judicial probation,” Pilchen said. “This upset me greatly.”
p. Pilchen said that he felt the incident sent a dangerous message to students.
p. “If an amnesty policy had subjective limits, it wouldn’t be an amnesty policy. Amnesty is an absolute term,” Pilchen added. “You can’t have, ‘amnesty unless we don’t think so.’”
p. Pilchen advocated the creation of an informal policy where students who qualified for medical amnesty are not charged by Campus police but instead referred to the dean of Students Office.
p. Chief of Campus Police Don Challis did not think that the amnesty policy should apply to Campus Police. “[Amnesty] can’t apply to police,” he said. “It’s not practical. We get students who say, ‘I need help,’ but when the ambulance shows up [they] won’t go. Our primary goal is the safety of the person involved.”
p. Challis also stressed that Campus Police seek alternatives to arrest.
p. “We’re not out to make every arrest possible; if so, we’d make more. For every arrest we make we have at least four referrals.”
p. According to Challis, the amnesty policy is misinterpreted by many students. “It wasn’t designed to be a free pass. I think people expect too much from it, like [the incident] never happened.”
p. Pilchen and the students involved in the January incident both called for clarification of the College’s alcohol amnesty.
p. “Hopefully this will all be chalked up to a simple mistake on the Dean of Students’ part, and this altruistic student’s judicial record will be expunged,” Pilchen said.