Click here for updates on the evolving COVID-19 situation at Rice
Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Monday, April 19, 2021 — Houston, TX 58°

EMS amnesty policy clarification a positive step for owl community

By Brian Baran     9/19/12 7:00pm

 

Clear and consistent standards, expectations and communication are necessary for a strong student-led community at Rice University - especially as they pertain to student health and safety. In the interest of clarity, the university's emergency medical services amnesty policy, as detailed in Article B, Section 4 of the Rice Alcohol Policy, was recently amended to better explain the violations to which amnesty applies, what amnesty entails, the requirements for receiving amnesty and behaviors that will result in the loss of amnesty. 

It is understandable for students to be concerned about what at first seems a sudden, under-the-radar change in policy. Upon closer inspection, these concerns are unfounded, for this is not a change in policy, but a change in wording to clarify a longstanding policy. This policy is in line with the general expectations placed upon the Rice community and is in the best interests of the student body. 



In the Thresher article reporting the clarification of the policy ("EMS amnesty policy clarified," Sept. 14, 2012), a student raised the concern that having a friend who gets angry while intoxicated places students in a "lose-lose situation." Supposedly, withholding amnesty from non-cooperative students presents a choice of (a) calling EMS with the risk that the friend will not receive amnesty, or (b) not calling, and facing disciplinary action for endangering the friend's physical well-being. 

That some consider this a choice is distressing. Refraining from calling EMS places your friend in danger of serious injury or even death; this is unconscionable. Ensuring that a student receives appropriate medical attention far outweighs any concerns about the student's disciplinary record - which is the logic behind amnesty in the first place. As members of this community - and as responsible adults in general - we have a duty to not only refrain from endangering others' well-being, but also to promote it. We must look out for those around us. This is what it means to have a culture of care. To be a member of the Rice community is a privilege we should be thankful to have. Let us not forget the responsibilities that accompany it. 

Do not be distracted by the additional paragraphs. These paragraphs do not limit amnesty. Instead, they express limitations and qualifications that already existed and that make sense in light of the policy's purpose. 

The key to understanding the EMS amnesty policy is that it exists to promote student health and safety by encouraging students who need medical attention to seek that attention. Its purpose is not to condone or encourage dangerous levels of alcohol consumption, irresponsible decisions or other conduct unbecoming of Rice students and the Rice community. Instead, it seeks to encourage students to properly prioritize receiving medical attention over avoiding disciplinary action by removing the risk of disciplinary action. 

It is not a new requirement that students must initiate a request for assistance in order to receive amnesty. That this requirement must exist is evident from the policy's purpose. A policy that exists to encourage students to seek medical attention should not apply to students who choose not to do so. 

It is not a new requirement that students must cooperate with emergency responders, including Rice EMS, the Rice University Police Department and other university officials. This is an expectation placed upon all members of the Rice community at all times. 

Article B of the Code of Student Conduct states, "By entering Rice University, students accept several responsibilities: to respect the welfare of all persons in the University community and their guests." Further, "In all activities each student is expected to be respectful of the rights and interests of the community and of others in the community."

Consumption of alcohol is not an excuse for violating the fundamental expectations placed upon members of the Rice community. It is not an excuse for belligerence and disrespect toward those here to keep us safe and healthy - or toward anyone else. It is not an excuse for placing any member of the community in harm's way. 

But if this clarification of the policy has no real impact on the expectations placed upon members of the Rice community, what benefit does it offer? 

This clarification is a positive step because it helps facilitate communication between the students, their government and the administration. Clearly stated expectations are easier to understand and to embrace. Thus, a clearly stated policy will provide greater benefit to the university community. 

A clearer, more understandable EMS amnesty policy will help nurture the culture of care that sets the Rice community apart and is an important component of the quality of life at this university. 

Brian Baran is the University Court secretary and a Duncan College sophomore. 



More from The Rice Thresher

OPINION 4/13/21 10:59pm
Letter to the Editor: What should we call “Willy Week”?

 As the parade to Beer Bike 1992 devolved into a water balloon melee, I picked up a pink water balloon and flung it in the general direction of a group of Sidizens who had been pelting me and my fellow Wiessmen with them.  As I did so, I felt my Rice ring slip from my finger.  A moment later, in the distance, I heard the metallic ping as my ring fell to the pavement.  “My ring!  My ring came off!”  I don’t know how I was heard over the din of laughter and yelling, but in a few moments, Rice students from three or four colleges paused their good-natured rivalry and helped me recover it, only a little worse for wear.  I wore that slightly dented ring up until replacing it for my 25th reunion a few years ago.

OPINION 4/13/21 10:17pm
Account for international students when planning for fall

 On Rice’s campus, a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel finally seems to be emerging. The administration is optimistic about “a mostly normal fall semester,” according to communications sent out by Kevin Kirby. According to President Leebron’s announcement on fall planning, most classes are expected to be in person, most university housing is expected to be fully occupied and COVID-19 policies regarding gathering restrictions are expected to be relaxed. The road forward for many Rice students is clear: Sign up for a vaccine appointment as soon as possible and wait for more than 80% of the Rice community to be fully vaccinated so that COVID-19 policies can be relaxed.

OPINION 4/6/21 9:35pm
We still need to care about voter suppression in a post-Trump America

Just a couple of months ago, Gov. Greg Abbott declared “election integrity” to be an emergency item for the 2021 Texas legislative session. This was promptly followed by the National Republican Party launching a committee to pursue state election laws, praising Abbott’s initiative. With Senate Bill 7 (SB 7) and its House equivalent (HB 6), in addition to other bills directed at restricting voting access like House Bill 2293, marginalized groups will be further restricted from their right to vote. Shift workers who rely on later voting place hours will be without options. Individuals with disabilities who require vote-by-mail will be burdened with providing proof of their condition. Drive-thru voting will be banned. The role of poll watchers, already infamous for attracting self-appointed vigilantes of voter intimidation, will be able to record voters who receive help filling out their ballots. 


Comments

Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.