CALL 911 GOOD SAMARITAN POLICY
CALL 911 GOOD SAMARITAN POLICY
Calling for help shouldn’t be a crime.
A campus Good Samaritan Policy (GSP) is a life-saving measure designed to prevent students from hesitating to call for medical assistance in the event of a medical emergency related to alcohol or other drugs by ensuring that, in an emergency situation, neither the caller nor the person experiencing overdose is exposed to academic or legal sanctions.
Consumption of alcohol and other drugs is widespread, particularly on many college and university campuses. Dangerous drug prohibitions and legal age of consumption contribute to both binge drinking and consumption of drugs of unknown purity and potency, sometimes leading to overdose. Even though alcohol poisoning can lead to a fatal outcome, many students refrain from contacting emergency services due to a threat of judicial consequences resulting from enforcement of the minimum drinking age or other policy violations. Effective policies protect students whether they are using alcohol or other drugs.
Colleges and universities without a GSP in place increase the likelihood that life-threatening emergencies on campus become fatal because, fearing harsh disciplinary responses to substance use violations, many students are hesitant to alert authorities during medical emergencies.
Good Samaritan Policies are critical harm reduction tools which should be fully implemented at the campus, local, and state level.
A comprehensive GSP Includes:
- A clearly worded, easily accessible, effectively enforced policy which is well known among the student body, campus administration, and campus public safety officers. GSPs are only effective if they guarantee amnesty in writing (usually in the student code of conduct) and the policy is widely publicized. If a school has the unwritten practice of excusing students from punitive consequences during emergency situations, but students don’t know about it, then it is like having no such policy at all.
- Amnesty from disciplinary actions for the person experiencing the medical emergency, the person(s) who notify authorities, and any other bystanders, as a maximum effort to promote fast action responses.Policies that do not cover all students are ineffective, it is important that protection be given to everyone.
- Amnesty from disciplinary action for all violation of all substance policies, not just alcohol policy violations.A GSP that only grants amnesty for alcohol-related emergencies is incomplete as it does not address medical emergencies related to other substances.
- Applies educational sanctions vs. disciplinary sanctions. Students are less reluctant to call for medical assistance as they aren’t fearing expulsion or suspension. In addition, educational sanctions may provide students with the information they need to avoid medical emergencies in the future and to share this information with their peers as a peer educator.
- The state of Georgia has a particularly good GSP; view the state law here. Special thanks to SSDP Chapter Leader Jeremy Sharp for leading the campaign that put this policy in place.
Strategies for Change
This policy can be implemented at the campus, local, or state level.
1. Identify Decision-makers & Stakeholders at your Institution
The first step to introducing a Good Samaritan Policy is to arrange a meeting with your institution’s policy makers. This could be school administration, student government association, campus health services or all of the above. Be sure to talk to your Outreach Coordinator if you need help determining who you should reach out to first. (Get 15 CAT points for “Develop campaign plan with Outreach Coordinator”)
2. Meet with Decision-makers and Introduce the Policy
Once you have determined who you should be meeting with, schedule a meeting to unveil the policy. During the meeting, rationally and logically present the proposed policy, be sure to use facts and statistics and present your policy brief. Please use our sample policy brief as a template! (Get 20 CAT points for “Meet with Decision Makers”)
3. Leverage Your Meeting into Results
There is a chance that whatever decision-makers you are meeting with will agree with your proposal. If you can get them to take on the issue with you, you may not have to organize a large and involved campaign in your own. If you sit down with decision-makers and they deny your request, you can show them some of your ambitious campaign plan with the hope of prompting them into trying to negotiate a compromise with you right then and there.
4. Organize a Campaign
If the policy-makers reject your initial proposal then it is time to launch and execute an effective campaign for policy change. For a successful campaign, you will need others to help work on the campaign. This will include each of the following components:
- Amplify your Fellow Students’ Voices
- A major goal of your campaign is to make sure that students’ voices are heard by those that need to hear them. While many students will agree with your position, most of them will probably feel too busy to contribute lots of time and energy to the campaign. You’ll need to make it as easy as possible for them to speak out and send messages to the decision-makers responsible for setting the campus drug policies. This tactic is called grassroots lobbying, and it is extremely effective in amplifying your concerns.
- Create a List of Supporters & Allies
- Be sure to have a working list of students and allies who support your efforts. The more supporters you gain the more effective you will be at showing the administration how serious this policy change effort is. Compile a comprehensive electronic list of your supporters & allies so that you’ll be able to easily mobilize them when it’s time to act. A good way to build your list is to get people to sign petitions that ask them to put down their name, email addresses and phone numbers and let them know that you’ll be contacting them at a future date to get involved with the final push. When it comes time to mobilize people, you’ll be able to send out a blast email that concisely outlines what you need them to do and when you need them to do it.
- Contact your outreach coordinator to have them put together an action center like we did in Ohio.
- Advertise the Campaign to Generate Interest
- Good Samaritan Flyer developed by Cassie Young of Ohio State University
- To win over the campus community, you’re going to have to let them know what the issues are and why they should agree with you. One of the early things you should do is flood the campus with some flashy, eye catching flyers that clearly and concisely convey the importance of your proposed Good Samaritan Policy. The flyers should include contact information and date of an upcoming meeting so that people who want to get involved with the campaign can find out more about it.
- Build a Coalition of Support on Campus
- Find as many ways as possible to involve your SSDP chapter members as well as any other students on campus who express interest in pursuing and enacting a medical amnesty policy. Other student organizations, student government association members, Greek Life organizations, faculty members, campus public safety, campus health professionals and campus media (such as a school newspaper) are all potential allies. You can also ask your professors if they’ll let you make a quick announcement at the beginning or end of classes. The key is to be able to demonstrate a large measure of support in order to apply pressure to any relevant decision-makers who can help with the process of enacting an effective policy. (Get 10 CAT points per allied organization for “Build/maintain relationships with other orgs on campus”)
- Search for Allies Beyond Campus
- Try to get outside organizations to officially endorse the policy changes you want to make, since it will boost your campaign’s authority and effectiveness to have a large, diverse list of supporters. It’s also helpful to reach out beyond campus to local and statewide organizations, such as ACLU chapters. These groups can bring credibility and resources to the campaign that you wouldn’t otherwise have. Another way to identify your supporters is to hold a community forum for people to share their thoughts on the campus’ drug policies. Other influential individuals you’ll want to reach out to include alumni, trustees, donors, state and local elected officials, and parents.
- Host a phone bank or organize a phone slam. This is a method that floods decisionmakers offices’ with dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of phone calls. You can make this happen by printing thousands of quarterpage flyers that have phone numbers and sample scripts on them. You can distribute these by setting up tables in a high-traffic area of campus, such as the student union or the green.
- Organize an email blitz. You can distribute administrators’ email addresses and ask students to draft their own messages and send individual emails, or you can set up an online action alert center where students simply enter in their contact information and email messages are automatically generated.
- Hold a Rally, Forum or Symposium aboutGSPs and Overdose Prevention. Work with your SSDP chapter and any allies to hold an event on campus highlighting the importance of GSPs and how they enhance safety for students on and off of campus. (Get 20 CAT points for “Host a Campaign-themed event. (Get 20 CAT points for “Host campaign-themed event”)
- Student Government Resolution
Brokering a Deal with Administration
If your institution’s decision-makers agree with your initial proposal, or they are compelled to do so because of your campaign, it is time to bring your policy change proposal back to the table for negotiation. Obviously, you’ll want all of your demands to be fully met, but it’s more likely that you’ll need to compromise and meet the decisionmakers somewhere in the middle. You’re going to have to be careful to not let them take advantage of you and trick you into agreeing to something you don’t really want. You’ll also have to make sure you’re accurately portraying and defending the concerns of the coalition you are representing. Make sure not to sign off on a deal that will alienate any part of your coalition. In any case, you’ll want to start by asking for exactly what you want. Then, if necessary, you can work your way down to a mutually acceptable compromise. (Get 50 CAT points for “Policy changed or adopted”)