OSCCR looks to add medical amnesty policy

Northeastern’s Code of Conduct determines crime and punishment for students, doling out consequences for everything from drinking violations to assault. The code is reviewed every year, and this time around could bring substantial changes, including a policy granting medical amnesty to intoxicated students.

This month, a review committee comprised of student representatives, faculty and staff will meet to discuss revisions to the Code of Conduct for the upcoming fall semester.

“We’re trying to clarify the language and clarify the definitions,” said Valerie Randall-Lee, director of the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR). “We want to combine what’s best for Northeastern and the city of Boston.”

One of the major changes that may be incorporated into the Code of Conduct is a policy of medical amnesty, ensuring students won’t be charged with drinking violations if they call for medical help for themselves or an intoxicated friend.

“Medical amnesty is a good thing,” said Aaron Dobson, a middler computer engineering major. “They should always be thinking how to make the code better.”

Ryan Moynihan, a freshman economics major, agreed the policy will make a difference in student safety.

“So many times, students need medical attention after partying but are too afraid of getting in trouble to seek the aid they need,” Moynihan said.

Although there is some concern students would see the policy as a green light to drink, freshman business major Trib Shaw said he doesn’t see it as a problem.

“I don’t think students would abuse the program, because who really wants to drink themself to the hospital anyway?” Shaw said.

The Resident Student Association (RSA) recently hosted an open forum with OSCCR discussing the changes.

Smith Anderson, RSA president, said he feels the medical amnesty policy is important. “The number one priority is to create the safest environment possible,” Anderson said. “Being guilty by association doesn’t create a safe environment. It’s confusing about what you can and can’t do sometimes.” Anderson said he thinks the code no longer represents Northeastern’s changing demographic.

“I think one of the major issues in the code of conduct is that it doesn’t represent the student body as it pertains to today,” Anderson said. “It’s very unclear and very difficult to read.”

Other changes likely to be implemented include adding an introductory paragraph that clearly defines who the code applies to, clarifying the sanctioning practices and including an administrative hearing process in the code.

Yet one of the biggest issues is that code itself was written by lawyers, and students have trouble reading and fully understanding its policies, according to some administrators.

“It’s a clarity issue,” said Ed Klotzbier, vice president for student affairs. “[We want to] tighten it up so people realize why it’s in place, and have a much better appreciation for what we’re trying to do,” Klotzbier said. “Students don’t know about the code unless they get into trouble.”

Student Government Association (SGA) President Ashley Adams said she agrees clarity and inconsistencies are major issues. However, she said student involvement in the process is of utmost importance to the SGA. Students will get that chance when the SGA hosts an open forum Feb. 22 to discuss further changes and ideas.

“We want to get as many students involved as possible. While we can advocate for them, we really want to give the students an opportunity to voice their opinions,” Adams said.

Students also stress the importance of publicizing the code and its new changes as well.

“If they change it, they should explain it too,” said Georgia Mihos, a middler marketing and finance major. “Most people don’t know about the code unless they get into trouble.”

Other ideas like registering parties are being considered, but most likely will not be added into the revised code until more research has been conducted, Randall-Lee said.

She emphasized revising the code to meet the expectations of both the administration and the student body is not an easy process, and takes time and extensive planning to execute the policies properly.

“We want to create a policy that really works well here. We want to do it right,” Randall-Lee said.

The final committee meeting is scheduled for March 2, and a draft to legal counsel is due March 6.

– News staff member Megan Jicha contributed to this report

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