Marywood to Offer Medical Amnesty

By Amanda Toth

Marywood’s Administration has just passed a new policy that would grant amnesty to students in violation of the University’s no-tolerance alcohol and drug policy if they seek help, for themselves or others, for alcohol poisoning or other such emergencies.

If leniency is granted, the student will have to meet with the Dean of Students, Amy Paciej, to discuss what caused him or her to place their health at risk. He or she might also be required to attend counseling and undergo drug or alcohol assessments. However, if the student continues to violate the policy, the leniency may be overturned and he or she could be disciplined. In addition, if the student is in violation of other University policies, he or she could still face judicial action.

Previously, a student would be given a hearing, and, if determined to be in violation, would receive a sanction. A few examples of sanctions are researching how alcohol affects one’s body, how underage drinking violations could affect one’s future career, and in extreme cases, alcohol education counseling through the Counseling and Student Development Center.

The policy started to take shape last fall, when Dr. Diane Haleem, Chair of the Department of Nursing and Public Administration, and Justin Winters, a Graduate Assistant, approached Dean Paciej about implementing such a policy. In studies they had previously conducted with Marywood students, they found that students admitted to not getting help for someone because they were afraid of getting into trouble.

“Since Dr. Haleem had already determined there was a need to be addressed through her completed research with Marywood students, the next step was benchmarking other institutions’ policies to learn of all the possible pros and cons of this type of policy” says Dean Paciej.

After looking at the policies of 15 other schools, a draft of the policy was presented to the Student Life Committee and Dr. Ray Heath, Vice President for Student Life, who suggested a few minor changes. The final policy is printed below and can also be found in the 2009-2010 Student Handbook:

This policy assures the community that when a student’s health and safety are in danger due to intoxication, alcohol poisoning or other drug-related emergencies, students who seek help for themselves or others will not be subject to disciplinary action for a violation of the University Alcohol and/or Other Drug Regulations.   In such cases, student(s) will be required to meet with the Dean of Students shortly thereafter to address the issues that caused the risk to the student’s well-being.  To assist students learn from the experience, the student(s) may be required to complete an alcohol/other drug assessment and/or to participate in counseling.  A repeated pattern of similar incidents or failure to cooperate with the Dean of Students will be responded to on an individual basis and could result in disciplinary action. If additional or egregious policy violations occur during the same incident, the Dean of Students reserves the right to adjudicate the non-alcohol related violations.