Is Michigan’s new plan to reduce alcohol harm on campus potentially dangerous for first-year students? I am afraid it might be. The University’s new plan includes a pilot program that would, “Notify parents of first-year students when a student under the age of 21 has had a second alcohol or drug violation or when a first-year student has committed a violation accompanied by other serious behavior such as needing medical attention, significant property damage or driving under the influence.” This according to an email from Vice President of Student Life E. Royster Harper that was sent to all students prior to the fall semester. Particularly concerning to me is the notion that seeking medical attention while intoxicated is somehow worthy of punishment from the University. Understandably, freshmen do not want to be caught drinking underage and are hesitant to seek help. Nonetheless, choosing to seek medical attention for yourself or someone else is an incredibly important decision likely made when one’s own life, or the life of a friend, is in grave danger. This last resort is used at a time where any delay could have fatal consequences. The state of Michigan knew exactly this when it enacted the Medical Amnesty Law to remove any fears of criminal punishment from the minds of frightened individuals who need help. With this new policy, the once alleviated fear of legal action is replaced by a new fear of University action. Students once again are faced with a dire dilemma: To seek help or to hope for the best. To be fair, the University has stated they will monitor the situation for any “unintended consequences”. However, when that “consequence” is the life of a student, any reaction would come too late.
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