The Responsible Student Policy: An Updated Version of the Amnesty Policy
By, Noa Maltzman, Faculty and Administration Editor
My fellow 4th floor Jonsson Tower (Joto) residents and I gathered at our mandatory floor meeting the night before the first day of classes. At the meeting, our Resident Assistant (RA), Celia Marhekfa (’18), made an announcement that the policy formerly known as the Amnesty Policy had been changed to the new Responsible Student Policy. She shared that one of the major changes and aspects that was clarified by the updated policy was that a student was not limited to one use of the policy. The members of Jonsson Tower 4th floor all seemed to agree that this was a very smart change.
Jennifer McDonald, Director of Health Promotions, said that in the past they “were hearing that students were often hesitant to call for help because they did not know if they would qualify for amnesty.” And that “there was a misperception that amnesty was a one-time thing, even for students who were calling for help.” Erin Dagle, Assistant Director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, said that with the new policy “We want to eliminate any barriers that might currently prevent them from making the call.”
Some other clarifications to the policy are that students who require medical assistance will receive appropriate educational intervention but will not otherwise be punished. A third clarification to the policy was making it clear that a student who calls for help for others is not in violation of the policy. According to the policy listed in the student handbook, “a student will never be penalized for calling for help for another student.”
With these clarifications in mind, “the new responsible student policy is intended to clarify some of the confusion [that came along with the old amnesty policy] and encourage students to feel comfortable calling for help,” said McDonald. Other changes were also made to the new policy because “there were some limits on amnesty that we were not comfortable continuing with,” McDonald said. For example the old policy stated that a “student would not be granted amnesty if someone in a leadership position (RA, Campus Safety, etc) made the call for help,” said McDonald. She also said that, “in the responsible student policy amnesty is a possibility regardless of who makes the call for help.”
The ideas for the new policy came from a review of policies at other schools, a meeting with SGA, open forums for students, a survey where students could provide feedback on the policy, and reviewing the strength and weaknesses of the policy.
“We hope that the responsible student policy will encourage students to call for help without worrying about “getting in trouble,”” McDonald said. She also said “the top priority is getting help to the student who needs it.”