Dike vetoes revised Samaritan bill

Despite its 17 to 1 approval in the Student Government Association Senate, a bill to lessen punishments for students involved in drug or alcohol-related emergencies fell short of approval at the executive branch.

SGA President Sam Dike vetoed the UH Good Samaritan Bill, which was approved by the Senate on Oct. 22, and said he felt neither the University nor the SGA should recognize a policy that may condone the use and or abuse of controlled substances.

"It is important to protect a student’s life, which is why we should punish those whose actions threaten student life," Dike said in a statement to the 45th SGA administration.

Dike requested further clarification on what constitutes a medical emergency, who determines it and clarity regarding the issue of seeking medical assistance – all components found in the bill authored by At-Large Sen. Michael Blunk.

"I was caught off guard by the veto, but the bill is kind of controversial because it is not an area that the Senate has dealt with before," Blunk said.

In response to Dike’s veto, Blunk issued a statement clarifying details that seemed to have been misunderstood during the bill’s first withdrawal from the Senate on Oct 9.

"Students aren’t being given a free pass. They are still being held accountable for their actions, but the sanctions they receive should be designed to prevent future violations of this nature," Blunk said.

Dike also examined specific aspects of the policy’s goals, criticizing it for not adequately addressing its objectives. Dike said the Good Samaritan Bill does not minimize harm, but instead works as a reactive policy encouraging rehabilitation.

"Drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs are fine as an option and should be applied to most but not all cases, due to examples of extreme negligence," Dike said.

"There is a way to implement such a policy without the perception of condoning drug and alcohol abuse."

Dike offered Blunk an alternative plan he said would not condone drug use and will make policies clear about what situations are considered drug-related medical emergencies.

"The Dean of Students should have the knowledge and capabilities to know what a medical emergency is, and it should not have to be outlined in the policy," Blunk said.

The Good Samaritan Bill will return to the Senate floor at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, where it must pass with a two-thirds majority vote.

"I don’t think many changes need to be made. I feel the Senate has what they need, and it’s up to them at this point," Blunk said. "I plan to talk with each senator one-on-one to see if there’s anything specific they want changed. If not, we will probably push for a veto override."

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