Senate to vote on amnesty policy

The Student Government Association Senate will vote on the UH Good Samaritan bill at tonight’s SGA meeting. If passed, the legislation would provide protection to students who call for help in a case of an alcohol or drug-related medical emergency.

Although UH drug policy has an unwritten rule stipulating students found with drugs or alcohol during medical emergencies will not be subject to punishment, the UH Good Samaritan Bill, which also extends to student organizations, would serve as official legislation and will be inducted into the UH Student Handbook.

The legislation, authored by At-Large Sen. Michael Blunk, was created to encourage students to call for help in emergencies dealing with the potential threat of overdose or alcohol poisoning without fear of harsh punishment from the Assistant Dean of Students.

"The idea is to decrease the risk that comes with alcohol and drug-related abuse," Blunk said. "The bill will put into writing what is already being done. It’s important to get it written down so students are aware of it in the future."

The Bill ensures that, in order to receive medical amnesty, individuals or representatives of organizations involved in such incidences must still follow discipline procedures outlined in the student handbook and schedule a procedural meeting with the Assistant Dean of Students within three days of the occurrence, as well as comply with any treatment, counseling, or education recommendations prescribed by the office.

The Good Samaritan policy would also promote education and counseling for students to prevent alcohol or drug-related medical emergencies.

Possibilities for alternative punishment include enrollment in a Minor in Possession class, enrollment in an online Marijuana 101 class and required sessions at the Counseling and Psychological Services Center. Upon treatment charges will be removed from their record; however, if proper emergency assistance is not sought by individuals involved then formal judicial action will be taken.

If the Good Samaritan Bill is approved, UH will join 90 higher education institutes that support this policy, including Yale, Rice, Missouri State and the University of Texas.

SGA will also introduce a bill to repeal the University Bill Mandating the Sale of Fair Trade Coffee, which was created and passed by the previous SGA administration. The legislation would instead adopt the stance of the current 45th administration to allow different coffee options.

Students For Fair Trade President Tiffany Le said she was disappointed at the Student Government Association’s complacency toward the bill, originally passed in April 2007.

"We’ve been criticizing SGA for not implementing a bill that they’ve passed," Le said. "For the time they allot us to speak, we will definitely be speaking. The legislation is one of our biggest accomplishments, and we’re not going down without a fight."

UH President Renu Khator and Jessica Varner, Administrative Director for Houston City Council member Ronald Green, will also give special reports at the meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the University Center, Mediterranean Room.

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