The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

MUSG seeking alcohol amnesty program

Last week, Marquette Student Government engaged in its most heated debate of the year — recommending the university adopt a formal alcohol amnesty program.

Drew Halunen, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences and the leading spokesperson for the bill, said students at Marquette often do not call for medical assistance for their alcohol-overdosed friends because they fear disciplinary repercussions for themselves as well as the drunken student. Halunen referenced a study done by the Division of Student Affairs in 2009 on alcohol and drugs.

Alcohol amnesty, Halunen said, is meant to offer immunity to both the student who calls for help and the student who has passed out from alcohol overdose. This would remove the main impediment students at Marquette face when deciding to seek help for someone facing alcohol poisoning.

The recommendation will now be passed along to administrators, who will decide whether to incorporate the measure into the student conduct code.

Currently, the conduct code says of acutely intoxicated individuals: “Acutely intoxicated students will not be left in the care of other students, including residence hall student staff. Students will be referred to appropriate health care facilities and/or law enforcement.”

Halunen said he believed the school was in favor of adopting such a policy because it was in the best interest of keeping students safe.

“The issue has been around (at Marquette) for a while,” Halunen said. “The idea is that currently we have a de facto policy — nobody really gets in trouble for alcohol overdose problems. But students weren’t aware of this, so they would wait to contact the proper authorities.”

Halunen said there would still be certain steps taken by school officials to make sure the students receive counseling or have some other action taken for their situation.

The recommendation passed by a wide margin following more than an hour of back and forth banter regarding the semantics of the proposal. The general ambiguity of the recommendation was an issue for Curtis Taylor, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration.

“I don’t think we should leave this issue in the grey, in a vague place,” Taylor said. “Basically we’re (sending it to administrators) saying, ‘Enjoy figuring it out.’”

Jilly Gokalgandhi, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, said she thought MUSG should pass the recommendation despite the ambiguities.

“I feel we would best represent the views of the students by passing this legislation,” she said.

On a national scale, such programs exist at Harvard University, Clemson University and George Washington University, among others.

The specifics of these policies vary from school to school, but the intent remains the same: to protect students who dial for medical help for another student from being prosecuted for underage drinking under the code of student conduct.

The results of those programs have raised some controversy over their effectiveness, however, with the number of students at Harvard being hospitalized for drinking overdoses estimated to have risen 43 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to a report by the Newsweek-sponsored blog The Daily Beast.

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