Amending amnesty

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March 26, 2015

10:55 PM

Tuesday, March 24, the Student Assembly Senate passed the Medical Amnesty Reform Resolution, which prevents the administration from using a student’s history of medical amnesty against them in a conduct hearing.

In its own words, the resolution “strongly urges the Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs to revise the Medical Amnesty Policy to specify that medical amnesty may only be considered in the Conduct system for the assignment of bona-fide educational or treatment requirements.”

The resolution highlights the misleading nature of the College of William and Mary’s current medical amnesty policy, and seeks to make amnesty meaningful and effective. It currently allows the Office of Student Conduct to consider a student’s previous medical amnesty history during any later proceedings with either the Conduct or Honor Councils. These considerations could lead to punitive action against the student, which directly contradicts any sort of amnesty the student may have thought he or she had.

In response, the resolution calls for medical amnesty history to only be used in deciding “bona-fide educational or treatment requirements,” while simultaneously listing all punitive actions that should not be sanctioned against students for having a medical amnesty history. It also calls for the inclusion of a clear list of every possible educational and treatment requirement — a great start to a programming initiative.

The resolution also fully acknowledges and seeks to correct the negative implications of the current policy on student safety, and claims that medical amnesty first and foremost should promote student health. Because of the possible repercussions of a medical amnesty history on subsequent proceedings of College policy violations, students hesitate to call for help and invoke medical amnesty.

Rather than invite students to seek help during alcohol crisis situations, the current amnesty policy forces students to make a decision between their health and their record, and student safety may be sacrificed as a result. The resolution speaks to the Student Assembly’s genuine concern for student health and is a productive and meaningful step towards its promotion. Too much is at risk in matters of alcohol poisoning for the school to continue with a misleading and ineffective amnesty policy, and the senate’s resolution would go a ways toward solving this problem.

The senate’s Medical Amnesty Reform Resolution is a clear, well-researched and purposeful resolution. It not only addresses the extremely pertinent problem of student health on campus, but also provides a well thought-out solution for a revised policy. The senate leveraged its limited power towards a necessary goal that will hopefully be well-received by the administration for the betterment of student life and health.

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