Policy would curb alcohol poisoning

Brandon Lindstrom

Brandon Lindstrom

As a senator representing the College of Arts and Science, I want to bring to your attention a policy that Sen. Ryan Stee and I have been pursuing here at SDSU. Last spring, we presented and passed a Students’ Association Senate resolution in support of establishing a Good Samaritan Alcohol Policy (GSAP) on SDSU’s campus.

What exactly is a GSAP, you ask? Put simply, a GSAP encourages students to notify emergency officials about a friend who is dangerously intoxicated by exempting those students from judicial action because they themselves were involved in alcohol policy violations. Alcohol poisoning is a serious problem, and students who are not 21 might choose to let their friend “sleep it off” rather than call an ambulance or the University Police Department, when in reality their friend has a good chance of never waking up.

Some say that UPD already basically follows this policy, but having the policy codified in the student handbook is the only way to be sure students know exactly what to expect and remove self-incrimination fears from their minds. I want to stress that this is not in any way a “get of jail free” card. Students found to be in an illegal situation would, per state law, need to have some action taken. A GSAP would keep these actions as minimal and confidential as possible and not have any bearing on acceptance into professional programs at SDSU. Some alcohol classes or counseling may be examples of action that can be taken.

Several colleges have established GSAPs, including Cornell University and the University of Northern Iowa. Cornell gives a great example of the effectiveness of GSAP. Since GSAP’s inception, Cornell has seen a twofold increase in alcohol-related 911 calls, but rates of alcohol abuse remained steady, showing that a GSAP really encourages students to make the call, but at the same time, does not foster additional alcohol abuse.

A Good Samaritan Alcohol policy is both a reactive and proactive approach towards fighting alcohol poisoning. Not only does it help guarantee assistance for students that truly need it, GSAP also works to fight long-term abuse. Even if a student wasn’t in grave danger, the simple fact that his or her friends were that concerned about them to call for help might make students who drink to excess seriously reconsider their habits before things go even farther the next time.

Coupled with readily available information on alcohol and other proactive solutions, a Good Samaritan Alcohol Policy will help curb the problem of alcohol poisoning, maximize safety for SDSU students and keep SDSU students out of the obituary column because of an alcohol-related death that could have been prevented by taking them to the hospital rather than their dorm room.

Contact the author at [email protected].