'Good Sam.' use rises in wake of changes

by Jennifer Garfinkel | 10/28/05 5:00am

A term and a half after the College changed its "Good Samaritan" policy, school officials have seen an increase in the policy's use, College Proctor Harry Kinne said.

The policy, which many students used to refer to as "one free pass," now allows as many calls as a student needs without the risk of disciplinary action.

Although anecdotal evidence points to an increased number of Good Samaritan calls, no data is available to support this claim, College Proctor Harry Kinne said.

"Based on this weekend, I'd say there was an increase compared to last year," Kinne said of the amount of Good Samaritan calls placed during Homecoming.

It is hard to gauge exact numbers of Good Samaritan calls because students are not required to use the words "Good Samaritan" when contacting Safety and Security, Kinne said.

Safety and Security handles all calls the same way regardless of whether the caller identified the call as a Good Samaritan. The only difference is whether the term "Good Samaritan" is written in the report.

In the spring, several students pushed the Student Assembly to examine the Good Samaritan policy. Dean of the College James Larimore formed a committee to reform the policy, and the Good Samaritan Working Committee's changes went into effect on the first day of Summer term.

"The language of the previous policy was somewhat unclear," said Frank Glaser '08, one of the original proponents of change.

Glaser said students felt uncomfortable with the old policy's use of the terms "repeated" and "flagrant."

The committee removed these terms, and the updated policy does not set a maximum number of calls that can be placed by a student or organization.

The new policy "emphasizes the health and safety of the students," April Thompson, director of undergraduate judicial affairs, said. When using the Good Samaritan policy, students will not incur disciplinary action for breaking College alcohol policy.

For repeated use of the policy, students may be encouraged or mandated to participate in an education or health program.

At the beginning of Fall term, the committee hung posters advertising the new policy, alerted all undergraduate advisors to the changes and held a mandatory meeting for all coed, fraternity and sorority presidents and social chairs.

Bracelets identifying partygoers as legal drinkers now include the words "Need help? Call Sam" with Safety and Security's phone number.

While the committee feels confident that there has been an increase in the policy's use, members also think that more education is necessary.

"I think every student should know of the changes to the policy, but the reality is that there are plenty who still don't," Glaser said. "There still needs to be more word of mouth between students."

Thompson knows that some students are still unclear about the changed policy, but hopes that students learn the policy and will not hesitate to use it.

"I know right now we're in this flux period where people don't know if they can trust the policy," Thompson said. "Please, give us a chance."

Members of the committee said they hope Greek organizations will know the intricacies of the new policy and take on the responsibility of teaching their members.

"Any member of the house can and should be obligated to help out a student," Oberlin said. "It's not just the president or social chairs; it can be any member of the organization."

Thompson, too, hopes that Greek organizations know that anyone inside the house, including party guests, can utilize the policy.

"Every Greek leader should be telling their members, 'Please, if someone needs help, call, we'll worry about the details later,'" Thompson said.

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