Student Government

SGA introduces ‘Samaritan’ bill

Student Government Association’s senators decided to forgo discussion of the GENDA and grade replacement bill and introduced the 911 Good Samaritan bill in Wednesday’s meeting.

The bill outlines the need for students to come forth and “do the right, responsible thing” when it comes to reporting incidents, particularly drug and alcohol-related situations, political science senior Michael McHugh said.

“Fear of police involvement is the number one reason why many drug and alcohol related incidences are not reported. Students think they may get in trouble, and they stay quiet,” McHugh said.

According to the Students for Sensible Drug Policy’s website, this bill would encourage people who witness or suffer an overdose to call 911 by assuring them they will not be arrested, charged or prosecuted for drug or paraphernalia possession or under-age alcohol possession.

Many prestigious universities have already adopted the bill, including Cornell, Duke and Harvard, McHugh said.

“With this policy, students will be (up to) two and a half times more likely to call for help immediately when witnessing alcohol incidents,” McHugh said. “Saving lives should never be considered criminal.”

The grade replacement bill discussions, a bill designed to allow students to retake a failed class and have the grade replaced, have come to a halt—for now.

“We’re not voting on the grade replacement policy tonight,” said Speaker of the Senate Reyes Ramirez. “We’re dealing with concerns from the Faculty Senate.”

According to Academic Affairs Chairman Maggie McCartney, she approached Faculty Director Simon Bott about the bill.  Bott then told her the grade replacement policy comes before the Faculty Senate every few years and every few years it is rejected.

The Faculty Senate’s concerns with the bill consist of implementing the program correctly and taking into consideration the students and the retention rate. The goal is for UH to continue to be recognized as Tier One and help students at the same time, according to Mike Nguyen, a former College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences senator.

“We’ll leave it in committee until we can get everything finalized,” McCartney said.

The proposal of the amended GENDA bill by McHugh is being put on hold.

“We figured we should take care of the students first, starting by holding off on this legislation. We (should) have more details on this by next week.”

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  • Serious question for "Student" GA: What the hell do we care about the Faculty Senate's concerns? We don't lobby the faculty, we lobby the Board of Regents. If the faculty wants to stick to their traditionalist and ignorant-of-students teaching methods, that's unfortunate but fine, it's just one more body we'll have to drag kicking and screaming into a scientific understanding of the learning process.

    Teachers at all levels resist advanced curriculum designs, mostly out of an irrational fear of change. A little frustrating to see it from a world-class faculty like that at UH, but on the whole not surprising. What is surprising is to see the SGA Senate kowtow to this kind of conservatism for the sole purpose of…what? Being nice? Screwing students? Poorly serving their interests?

    And the Good Samaritan Bill. It's like inverse mandatory minimums. As if the existing judicial authorities can't be trusted to render a fair decision in cases where people break the law. Newsflash: If you're in a situation where someone is in danger of losing their lives, society *needs* to step in and give you a wake-up call. Since when are we a student body who believes in legislating against stupidity? Not two weeks ago we were discussing how *soft* to make a smoking ordnance to allow smokers to continue their slow march to malignant carcinomas, now it is in our vital interest to provide the full protection of the student body to those who drink or drug themselves to death?

    Priorities. Get some. Students > Faculty. General Welfare > 'Rights' of smokers/polluters. Legislating to protect freedom > Legislating against freedom (even if it's freedom to act stupidly).

    • "As if the existing judicial authorities can't be trusted to render a fair decision in cases where people break the law."
      really? you think our judicial system is fair but our legislature isn't? at least we can vote for all of our legislators.
      i usually agree with what you say, but i think this kind of extreme libertarianism is disgusting.
      in an ideal world with an intelligent public we wouldn't need any legislation – i get it…but welcome to the real world. we have to collectively govern ourselves, and just because we're not very good at it doesn't mean we should condemn government regulations "against freedom" – we should just get better at it.

      whatever we don't do through democracy/govt will be left to the rich, powerful elites – is that really much better?

      i just don't understand this libertarian line of thinking at all. i get that you guys hate the govt – who doesn't, but do you really think we can become anything like what you propose any time soon? everyone wants to be totally free – especially those with lots of money being regulated – it's ideal, it's something to work towards, but it's not much of a political philosophy imo.
      i'd just like to see libertarians talking about realistic solutions instead of their idealistic fantasies some time.
      like how ron paul talks about ending the war on drugs, which is great, but then he talks about leaving the poor people who OD and can't afford a doctor up to the good grades of some theoretical altruistic doctor which is a strange idea to me. he can't meet half way and say maybe we should monitor people's drug use, try to prevent addiction, etc. meanwhile corporations will be doing the analysis, except it's how to get us as addicted as possible – like they did with cigs, but i guess we don't need a govt watchdog because the media will inform…oh wait they're controlled by the rich elites too.

      sorry if this is ranty, but this kind of thinking just really fires me up because you're basically talking about letting people die for something easily preventable and that could easily happen to many people you know and love – all because of some outdated antisocial political ideology.

      oh and what world class faculty are you talking about? the few that they hired to meet their Tier One ranking so they can get more evil Government Assistance.

  • Good Sam is such a half-baked idea (no pun intended).

    While the bill, if passed, would provide amnesty against any punishment from the University, but there's NO WAY it could protect students from getting a citation from HPD. So great, you're not getting a student life referral.

    If someone is actually overdosing and is worried about the consequences of calling authorities, whether or not they'll be getting a student life referral doesn't play into the calculation. What they're worried about is criminal penalties. Unless this bill fiats amnesty from HPD, there's really no sense in passing it.

    It also doesn't seem to solve the major problem that got this bill vetoed four years ago – it only applies during a medical emergency. If there ISN'T a medical emergency, there's NO amnesty. What this bill asks students to do is to make untrained medical decisions – "is this an emergency? If it isn't an emergency, students worried about punishment (which is really the only segment of the student population this targets) would be encouraged to delay calling for help until it becomes more of an emergency. I'd be worried about having an incident where a student dies because a group of others debated over whether her condition was really an emergency.

    At the end of the day, we need a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drugs. SGA has no business supporting a bill that encourages their use by allowing amnesty.

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