Amnesty only goes so far

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April 13, 2007

5:13 PM

The alcohol amnesty policy should not and does not refer to exception from judicial sanctions for any alcohol violations — rather, it only focuses on the case of intoxication. Recently, a College freshman notified emergency services when his roommate, according to Andy Garden’s article in the April 6 issue of The Flat Hat, began “vomiting blood after consuming alcohol.” The reporting student had a “considerable quantity of alcohol in his room,” and was referred to the dean of students. In short, the reporting student ended up with a “two-semester probation [from the College], six months probation from Virginia and alcohol education from the school,” as well as from James City County.

p. While I commend the freshman for having the gall to call emergency services, the argument that he should have been protected under the alcohol amnesty policy is weak. The current alcohol amnesty policy focuses on the intoxication of the person(s) involved (whether self or the reporting individual), and not to all violations of the College’s Alcohol Beverage Policy. The entirety of the policy is prefaced by: “If an individual seeks medical attention due to his/her level of intoxication …” Thus, if you have three handles of Parrot Bay Spiced Rum in your room, and later have to call the paramedics for your drunk roommate, judicial sanctions may be overlooked for your being intoxicated (if you are).

p. However, there’s nothing in the amnesty policy that prevents the pursuit of judicial sanctions for the possession of alcohol (i.e. the three handles) in your room. Those are two completely separate incidents.

p. Consider the following: replace the “considerable quantity of alcohol” in the freshman’s room with a still used to produce alcohol. Should he get amnesty under the same conditions just because producing alcohol in one’s dorm would also be a violation of the College’s ABP and he requested assistance for intoxication (ignoring any legal ramifications)? Certainly not. He may receive amnesty for being intoxicated, but should not (and does not, under the current policy) receive amnesty for the alcohol violation related to the still.

p. I know there’s a large faction of students who downright don’t agree with Campus Police policies or enforcement. However, their job is straightforward: to ensure campus safety and to uphold and enforce the laws of all jurisdictional levels — i.e. of the College, the city and the commonwealth of Virginia. The job of Campus Police is to account for violations of laws, whether seemingly minor or much more serious. Notice that nowhere in the job description does it say, “rewrite existing laws that may seem impractical” or “selectively enforce those laws that are most pragmatic.”

p. The fact remains that, if you’re under 21, you don’t have the legal right to consume or possess alcohol. If you don’t agree with that, fine — but that’s the status quo. If you knowingly disobey that law, don’t whine when you’re not ready to accept the consequences. If your roommate has alcohol in the room and you don’t want to get in trouble, try to work it out with him and then report it if you can’t. If you want to side with loyalty to your roommate and don’t want to be a stool pigeon, then act maturely and accept the consequences should law enforcement ever have to enter your room.

p. __Devin DeBacker is a junior at the College.__

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