Editorial: New handbook policy change can save lives

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On August 5, 2012, Brett Finbloom, a resident of Carmel, Indiana died of alcohol poisoning just weeks before he was supposed to leave for his first year at the University of Oklahoma. He died because his friends were afraid to call an ambulance in fear of getting into legal trouble.

Two years later, the state of Indiana took a step in the right direction in preventing this from occurring again by creating the Indiana Lifeline Law. Now, DePauw has followed the state’s lead and passed a similar statute.

The Indiana Lifeline Law “provides that a person is immune from arrest or prosecution for certain alcohol offenses if the arrest or prosecution is due to the person: (1) reporting a medical emergency; (2) being the victim of a sex offense; or (3) witnessing and reporting what the person believes to be a crime.” In summary, a person who is in need of hospitalization because of overconsumption of alcohol will not get in legal trouble if someone else calls an ambulance for them, and neither will the caller.

In an email sent to DePauw students by Alan Hill, vice president of student and academic life, the administration implemented a mid-year handbook policy very similar to the Indiana Lifeline Law. With the DePauw Medical Amnesty Act (MAA) now in place, students will not receive punishment for calling an ambulance for a student needing hospitalization.

This is a policy change that needed to be made, and we applaud the administration for taking the necessary actions by implementing it. Punishment should never stop someone from calling an ambulance for a fellow student, but college students are still maturing and mistakes are inevitably made. Hopefully, this policy will prevent a mistake this large from ever occurring at DePauw.

We encourage all students to remember this new policy during nights when alcohol is being consumed. The worst case scenario by sending someone to the hospital is that they have to spend the night in a hospital. The best case scenario? A life is saved.