Interfraternity Council votes to push for Good Samaritan Policy
In a unanimous vote last week, the Interfraternity Council and twelve fraternity presidents sided in favor of the AU administration adopting an alcohol policy that lifts responsibility from hosts if a member of a party is taken to the hospital.
At the Oct. 14 meeting, fraternity heads endorsed the measure, called a “Responsible Action Protocol,” for all AU student organizations, including those outside of Greek life. This protocol, otherwise known as a good samaritan policy, would allow student organizations to notify emergency services when a student requires medical transportation and treatment without fear of retribution or discipline from the University.
“Here’s the blunt truth: even if someone was passed out drunk at an off-campus social event, organizations were reluctant to notify medical personnel for fear that the organization or the individual would be prosecuted.” IFC President Joe Reid said in a statement provided to The Eagle from IFC.
Previously, student organizations at AU would incur fines in situations where a student required a medical transport at events that were run by a student organization.
Those present at the IFC President’s Summit concurred that AU’s current alcohol policy sometimes causes students to drink off-campus, where they can run into more problems, according to the press release from the IFC.
“The reality is that AU’s alcohol policy pushes students to off-campus parties every weekend. The challenge is to make those events as safe as possible for guests and members,” IFC VP of Risk Management John Dery said in the statement.
Several other universities have recently adapted a similar good samaritan policy, including St. Louis University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Richmond and University of California San Diego.
“Research overwhelmingly shows that alcohol prohibition results in higher rates of sexual assault, off-campus binge-drinking and risky behavior,” Reid said in the statement. “AU has created a climate of secrecy around alcohol consumption. We need to be transparent about our problems and look for ways to solve them as a community.”
The Responsible Action Protocol does not remove individuals and organizations from responsibility for required medical attention in all circumstances.
“If there’s extenuating circumstances [that require medical attention], and you created a significant amount of risk to put that person in that situation, then that’s a different ballgame.” Reid said.
The organizations that would be protected by this policy are not limited to Greek Life. The good new measure would extend to all student organizations recognized by the administration at AU, according to IFC.
Colin Gerker, assistant director of fraternity and sorority Life, did not specify whether AU administration supports the proposal for a good samaritan policy. The IFC does not have the authority to implement the policy on its own.
“As the Interfraternity Council continues to navigate creating a safer environment for members and guests, our office here is to support that objective,” Gerker said in an email.
IFC has the support of American University Student Government President Sasha Gilthorpe, which may help the group’s efforts to convince administration to implement the policy.
“I fully support the Interfraternity Council in their push for a Responsible Action Protocol in order to reduce risk and make AU students safer,” Gilthorpe said in an email to The Eagle.