By Haley Romney
The Associated Students of Eastern Washington University is pushing for a student alcohol amnesty policy in the wake of the tragic death of an intoxicated 18-year-old at Washington State University.
The WSU freshman, Kenneth D. Hummel, died Oct. 27 from a blood alcohol level of .40 – more than five times the level at which a person is considered to be intoxicated.
The shock of the WSU case has spurred interest in a long-contemplated amnesty policy here.
Frank McNeilly, a public relations specialist in student government, and Aly Morgan, the ASEWU Student Health and Safety Services representative, are heading up the drive.
Modeled after the Good Samaritan policy of WSU, an amnesty policy at EWU would mean that if a student under the legal age of 21 becomes endangered after becoming intoxicated, either the student or a different student can call police or other authorities for help without risking that a “minor in possession” charge will result.
The idea behind the policy is safety first, says Morgan. If a student is in trouble with alcohol, fear of legal problems should not keep them from getting help. At most, the student might be required to enroll in some sort of alcohol education program.
McNeilly and Morgan also hope to provide more alcohol education to Eastern students in hopes of heading off the kind of situations that require an amnesty program.
The new policy would not provide any immunity where sexual assault or any other more serious crime is involved. The immunity is strictly for “minor in possession,” and standard legal action would be taken for other charges.
As for repeated offenders, their second and subsequent calls would be reviewed individually so that no one comes to see amnesty as an invitation or reason to drink too much again.
Morgan said student government is currently working with the Cheney police department to see if the amnesty program could also operate off campus.
The policy is in its infancy; the next step is student support. Morgan has written up a petition that will be circulated among students to get a feel for their interest in the measure. She is looking for volunteers to help spread the word.
The hope is to have this policy drafted and ready to start jumping through the hoops by next fall. These hoops include getting the support of the faculty, the dean of students and the board of trustees, among others.
Students who would like to get involved with the amnesty issue, or even just sign the petition, should contact Aly Morgan at email@example.com.