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Local News

April 24, 2013

SUNY Oneonta tweaks its policy on drugs, alcohol

SUNY Oneonta has seen more cases of alcohol poisoning this academic year, according to administrators presenting background to the College Council, which passed a policy Tuesday to lift judicial penalties in some cases of substance abuse requiring medical treatment.

The SUNY Oneonta College Council passed a “Good Samaritan/Medical Amnesty Policy’’ that could grant a one-time reprieve of campus judicial penalties for students who are treated in emergency situations for alcohol or drug abuse or students who report peers needing assistance.

The policy was the result of discussions with Student Association leadership and members of the SUNY Oneonta Emergency Squad, an administration document said. Rationale for the policy was to increase the likelihood that students would call for help in alcohol-related medical emergencies by removing fear of “getting in trouble’’ as a result of seeking assistance.

Under the policy, a student who receives emergency medical assistance for consumption of alcohol or drugs, whether transported to a hospital or not, would be eligible for a one-time amnesty from alcohol- or drug-use charges under the Code of Student Conduct.

To receive amnesty, each student must complete follow-up risk assessment, among fulfilling other requirements, and failure to meet requirements would result in restoration of charges and adjudication by a hearing officer. A one-year probation and educational programming might be imposed after a hearing that determines that code violations were committed, according to documents presented to the council.

Amnesty eligibility also extends to students who seek emergency medical assistance on behalf of another student, the policy states, and a report may be made through any college staff member or directly to SUNY Oneonta University Police.

SUNY Oneonta enrolls about 5,720 full-time undergraduate students, and about 3,350 live on campus.

Steve Perry, vice president for student development at SUNY Oneonta, reviewed the college’s practices and programs on alcohol and drug prevention before the College Council voted on the amnesty policy. Students who receive medical attention for drinking are a small percentage of enrollment, Perry said, and a marked increase in calls for medical assistance in cases of intoxication suggests that students are calling for help at least as needed.

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