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Alcohol amnesty: a life-saving solution

When many people think about the stereotypical college experience, very specific images pop up into their heads: broadening the mind, making new friends that last a lifetime and gaining independence, to name a few. While these images are very positive, for many, the classic college life also includes binge-drinking, drugs and wild parties.

UMBC is not like most college campuses when it comes to the wild parties. Still, just like almost every campus, there are always students who partake in underage drinking and the use of illegal substances. Some of these students get caught, while others fare much worse, falling victim to the major possible health risks that come with any substance.

Students who are drinking illegally or using illegal substances will often not call an ambulance or the police if there is a serious problem when alcohol is involved. In 2015, there were 1,825 university student deaths in the United States due to alcohol-related incidents (though it is important to note that this number includes motor accidents). Universities are not doing enough to prevent some of these consequences.

Medical amnesty is an absolutely necessary provision that many schools do not have in place. A medical amnesty clause guarantees that any individual who reports illicit activities in response to medical emergencies will not be charged or get in trouble with their school.

Amnesty clauses such as this attempt to protect both the recipients of the medical services and the concerned friends who call for those services. These friends might be scared of the retribution that their friends or they themselves would face, as it is likely that they too would be intoxicated.

Junior psychology major Shanice Harris stated, “I would like to think that with an amnesty program, UMBC would be opening stigma-free channels that will make it easier for students to ask for and receive the help they need.

Allowing some sort of legal wiggle room is a necessity when considering the extent of college drinking. Four out of five students drink alcohol and out of those students, half consume alcohol through the dangerous action of binge-drinking.

Harris also brings up negative possible outcomes of an amnesty program at UMBC, she said,”Unfortunately, there might be a few students that may take advantage of the amnesty policy.” True, some students might take advantage of the policy; however, the rule will only make students more open and transparent with the activities they are most likely already involved in.

It could be argued that implementing such a law could cause underage drinkers to abuse the system, but the fact of the matter is that the problem of underage drinking has persisted through the years. As stated previously, the majority of college students underage drink; therefore, colleges and other lawmakers should have a vested interest in ensuring there is as little damage done as possible.

The fear of getting caught or ruining the future of a friend sometimes outweighs the possibly fatal consequences of binge-drinking. In consideration of the extent of underage drinking on college campuses, it would be greatly helpful to offer every student a safety net in order to ensure that students never have to choose between continuing their academic career and possibly endangering a life.