Purdue implements interim medical amnesty policy

August 22, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – An interim policy, pending input from the University Senate, assures students they will not face university discipline if they seek medical assistance when they or someone they help is intoxicated.

This Good Samaritan policy, called Purdue CARES, is the product of yearlong research and advocacy by the former president of Purdue Student Government, Brad Krites, and PSG members. The policy is similar to those of about 100 higher education institutions nationwide.

"PurdueCARES complements our AlcoholEdu initiative, an online tutorial new this fall to educate incoming students and student leaders about the damaging effects of alcohol," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "Together, they form a comprehensive policy that addresses education and safety."

The University Senate has been reviewing the policy, which will remain interim until after its recommendations are forwarded this fall.

"Then, based on our experience under the interim policy and the recommendations of the Senate, we will make a final determination," Córdova said.

The policy is for the West Lafayette campus and, as presently worded, states: "In cases of student intoxication and/or alcohol poisoning that occur on the West Lafayette campus, on the premises of a recognized student organization or at a function sponsored by a recognized student organization, the intoxicated student, as well as the student(s) seeking medical attention on the intoxicated student's behalf, will be exempt from disciplinary sanction related to alcohol consumption."

If evidence exists to suggest they violated Indiana laws or university regulations, student organizations would not be not exempt from discipline, but the policy states that "the willingness of the members involved to seek medical assistance for a member or a guest will be viewed as a mitigating factor in determining a sanction for any violations of university regulations."

John Cox, Purdue chief of police, said his department has the students' best interests at heart.

"Police cannot and will not ignore violations of state law," Cox said. "Our hope is that students, intoxicated or not, will now put a higher priority on calling for medical assistance. One of the primary focuses of Purdue police officers and Purdue Fire department emergency medical technicians is to help our students."

John Dennis, mayor of West Lafayette, agreed.

"We also appreciate that the university is rolling out its medical amnesty policy at the same time it is launching AlcoholEdu," Dennis said. "Many students choose not to drink. Those who do will learn about risks and responsibilities that go along with it."

The policy was one of several initiatives that student government took on in 2010-11.

"By far, this policy will have the most long-term impact on the health and safety of students," Krites said. "Our research showed that at a comparable university, the adoption of such a policy increased the number of student calls for medical attention while, at the same time, not increasing student drinking.

"This policy aims to change the culture around alcohol consumption at Purdue, but education is also essential."

Melissa Exum, vice president for student affairs, added, "This policy reflects Purdue's intrinsic philosophy that health and safety must come first.

"Brad and Purdue Student Government are to be commended for an excellent job. They did their homework and worked with the Office of the Dean of Students, Purdue police and others on this. The result is a medical amnesty policy that promotes student well-being and leaves open the door to assist students who have alcohol-related problems, ensuring they receive education and counseling when appropriate."

PurdueCARES stands for Purdue Community Alcohol-Related Emergency Situation Program.

Writer: Jeanne Norberg, 765-494-2084, jnorberg@purdue.edu

Sources:  Melissa Exum, 765-494-5446, exum@purdue.edu
                  L. Tony Hawkins, associate vice president for student affairs, 765-494-1233, lthawkins@purdue.edu
                 Brad Krites, 260-413-1822, bkrites@purdue.edu
                 Jeffery Stefancic, associate dean of students, Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, 765-494-1250, jpstefan@purdue.edu
                  Danita Brown, dean of students, 765-494-1239, dmbrown@purdue.edu

Related website:
Interim policy on Medical Amnesty for Student Intoxication