More than 90 colleges nationwide have adopted some form of medical amnesty, but it looks like Boston University isn’t ready to join them just yet. BU Student Union’s meeting with the University Council Committee on Student Life and Policies is clearly a commendable achievement but it has also brought to light how BU’s vague alcohol policy makes the issue of medical amnesty so complicated.
Transparency and effective communication is something for which the administration should always be striving, but to come up with a definitive policy regarding alcohol and medical amnesty is fraught with complications. BU would not want to alter its ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on underage drinking because administrators don’t want to suggest in any way that they are condoning underage drinking. However, BU also doesn’t want its students to think that an alcohol violation or two is grounds for expulsion or removal from housing. It is encouraging to see that administrators acknowledge Union’s proposal, but it is unclear how or if they will address this paradox.
The need for a definitive medical amnesty policy is not as urgent as the Union would have students believe. There are much more important academic issues that require the attention of the Union. Even if students did have the opportunity to fill out some sort of medical amnesty form, this would not change anything. As it stands right now, alcohol violations are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and students have the opportunity to defend themselves if they feel that their punishment is unfair. Filling out a form requesting to invoke medical amnesty would be redundant because students are already allowed to plead their case.
Whether or not a medical amnesty policy will eventually be instated at BU, the push for such a policy has its benefits. At the very least, the Union’s attention to the topic of medical amnesty caused many students to realize that most likely, they won’t get in serious trouble if they need to help an intoxicated friend under BU’s existing policies. As long as students are aware that BU ultimately wants them to be responsible when they find themselves in such a situation, the university’s current approach is sufficient.