Good Samaritan policy takes fear out of doing the right thing

Suzi Starheim

New provision puts safety first

Chris Wallis said he and fellow members of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy came up with the Good Samaritan Provision to save fellow students’ lives.

The Good Samaritan Provision is designed to support the most responsible decision making that can be made in an emergency – especially life-threatening situations from an alcohol or drug overdose.

The provision allows students to make an immediate 911 call without the worry of having a police report or arrest made.

“In the past, students may have been reluctant to call for help when help was truly needed for fear of themselves being subject to university discipline related to the incident,” said Greg Jarvie, interim vice president of enrollment management and student affairs. “It’s not about getting in trouble – it’s about doing the right thing.”

Wallis, senior photojournalism major, said SSDP started the process of bringing the provision to Kent State at the beginning of last semester.

“We brought this provision up because we knew the university didn’t have anything like it,” he said. “Even though this hasn’t necessarily been an issue before, we don’t want it to become one.”

Angelica Gagliardi, vice president of SSDP and junior deaf education major, said Jarvie played a huge role in bringing the provision to campus.

“We wrote the policy ourselves and then met with Jarvie,” she said. “He voiced us his concerns, and then we took it and revised it to meet what the university wanted. He was really cooperative and took it and ran with it.”

While the provision has been in effect since the start of the semester, Wallis said no students have used it yet.

“We haven’t gotten any calls because the e-mails just went out to students in the residence halls a few days ago,” he said. “It’s not going to do anything if no one knows about it.”

Gagliardi said she hopes the provision does some good for students, even if they never necessarily have to use it themselves.

“When they are in those situations, every second counts,” Gagliardi said. “As a friend it’s your responsibility to know that this (provision) is in existence because it could save a friend’s life.”

Gagliardi said freshmen and sophomores living in the dorms were the SSDP’s biggest concern when planning the provision for campus.

“There are lots of freshmen and sophomores on campus who haven’t been around drugs and alcohol before,” she said. “They don’t know their limits and can easily overdose. We want to really get the words out to students living on campus.”

While taking punitive measures is not the first step with the provision, once the student in danger is released from the hospital, follow-up counseling will be mandatory. This includes an alcohol or drug evaluation, counseling and/or treatment.

“If a student refuses to go through the mandatory follow-up counseling, they will be referred to the university’s Office of Judicial Affairs,” Jarvie said.

He said in most situations, ones concerning alcohol and drug overdoses, punitive measures are taken before educational measures.

“You typically change behavior when you know you have a problem, and that is what the educational and counseling part of this program will do,” Jarvie said. “The bottom line is that we want students to learn from this.”

Wallis said students should always know in the back of their minds this provision is here for their safety.

“Be safe, and be smart,” he said. “Watch your friends if you choose to party.”

SSDP meets Tuesday nights at 9:30 in Room 316 of the Student Center.

Contact safety reporter Suzi Starheim at [email protected].