Clarifying the Good Samaritan policy

by Dan Nelson | 10/30/06 6:00am

To the Editor:

I appreciate The Dartmouth's highlighting the "Good Samaritan" policy, but I am writing in response to Friday's editorial that conveys the misconception that the policy is applied on a "subjective, case-by-case basis" ("Verbum Ultimum," Oct. 27). That isn't the case at all. A year or so ago, the Student Assembly and the Undergraduate Judicial Affairs Office worked together to revise the previous version of the policy (which was also crafted by a committee of students and administrators), primarily in order to remove the appearance of subjective or inconsistent application.

The current policy, which can be found on pages 100-101 of the 2006-2007 Student Handbook encourages students to call Dartmouth Security, 911, police, fire safety or medical professionals when someone who is intoxicated or impaired needs assistance. The policy states "Students and/or organizations that seek assistance from these sources, the individual assisted, and others involved will not be subject to disciplinary action with respect to the alcohol policy."

That is the substance of the policy, which I encourage students to read for themselves and to discuss with College staff if they have questions. The students and administrators who drafted the policy did their best to state it clearly so that it would not be perceived to be applied in a subjective, arbitrary or inconsistent way. It is definitely not the case that the policy applies only when students call Safety and Security. It is definitely not the case that the policy applies only when students say the "magic words" that "I'm calling for a Good Sam." It's definitely not the case that it would be rare for the policy to be applied to an off-campus call.

It is true that it is rare for students to call for help for an off-campus situation, although I am very thankful that someone from Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority called about the alcohol-related emergency in Enfield, N.H. Although my colleagues and I wish there were fewer situations involving high-risk drinking that required calls, we also wish that more students would call when help is needed, on campus or off. Our primary goal in implementing the alcohol policy is not to impose disciplinary sanctions but rather to support the health and safety of students. The Good Samaritan policy is an important aid for making Dartmouth a safer community and for supporting one of the College's most important values and traditions, which is students caring for one another.