What Is the Purpose of the Medical Amnesty Policy?
The College's Amnesty policy is provided to encourage students to seek help if concerned for their own or a friend's safety. It is designed to reduce a barrier to help-seeking: the fear of a student conduct record and sanctions.
How Does the Medical Amnesty Policy Work?
In serious or life-threatening situations, particularly where alcohol poisoning or drug overdose is suspected or where other medical treatment is reasonably believed to be appropriate, students are asked to take the following steps:
- Call 911 (or the William and Mary Police Department at 757-221-4596 if on campus)
- Stay with the person needing assistance until help arrives
- Be prepared to give the emergency medical personnel as much information as possible including the amount and type of alcohol or substances consumed
- If a student is heavily intoxicated or is incapacitated, letting that person "sleep it off" or having a friend "look after" that person are not reasonable alternatives to getting him/her the necessary medical help.
What is Covered Under the Policy?
The policy applies to individual violations of the alcohol and drug policy; the policy does not apply to possession with intent to distribute drugs or for other possible violations of the code such as property damage, injury to another, etc.
What Happens After Medical Help Is Provided?
If the situation qualifies, students are required to meet with a member of the Student Affairs staff to discuss the incident. The staff member, after evaluating the situation, will determine appropriate educational actions for the student. The student is required to complete all educational actions and pay for the services provided. Actions may include, but are not limited to: parental notification, a referral to an on-campus alcohol counseling course, a meeting with an alcohol and other drug counselor, or required treatment off campus.
Students who fail to complete the requirements in their entirety may be subject to additional requirements or a charge of Failure to Comply with Directions, a violation of the Student Handbook.
If it is determined, independent of the call for assistance, that a violation or violations of the Student Conduct Code have occurred, students involved in the incident may be charged with those violations.
Will My Parents Find Out?
Typically parents are notified if the student needed medical assistance as a result of alcohol or other drug consumption. If a registered student is transported to an emergency medical treatment center for alcohol or drug use, the student's parents or guardians may be notified by a member of the Dean of Students staff if necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.
Does the Medical Amnesty Policy Protect Students from Police or Legal Actions?
No. The Medical Amnesty Policy only applies to student conduct charges. The William and Mary Police often will simply refer the matter to the Dean’s Office rather than charging/arresting the student if it is evident that help was proactively sought. The Williamsburg Police do not have such an arrangement, so amnesty does not apply to any incident involving them.
Will Anyone Else Find Out?
Possibly. If an incident is less than one year old, or if the student has a subsequent alcohol or drug-related incident, the Dean’s Office may disclose the record if the student is applying for membership on the Honor or Conduct Councils, for a position in Residence Life, as an Orientation Aid, or to study abroad.
Will Incidents Involving the Medical Amnesty Policy Be on My Academic or Disciplinary Record?
No. Medical Amnesty Policy incidents will not be entered on the student's official conduct record. We do, however, maintain the file in our office for our reference.
Is There a Limit to the Number of Times the Medical Amnesty Policy Can Be Used?
No. Students are always encouraged to look after their friends and peers, and are encouraged to take responsible actions anytime they are necessary.
However, if a student is involved in repeat alcohol and/or drug abuse incidents, the staff may apply progressively more aggressive strategies to address the repeat pattern of behavior.
What Is Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning is another term for an alcohol overdose, which may occur when individuals consume so much alcohol that their bodies can no longer process it fast enough. Alcohol poisoning and overdoses are potentially lethal; the human body simply cannot tolerate or process excessive amounts of alcohol. Too many college students have died as a result of alcohol poisoning.
What Are the Signs or Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning or Overdose?
The signs or symptoms of alcohol poisoning include (not all of these need to be present):
- Confusion or stupor
- Vomiting while passed out, not waking up after vomiting, or incoherent while vomiting
- Breathing is slow (less than 8 breaths per minute) or irregular, with 10 seconds or more between breaths
- Weak pulse, very rapid pulse, or very slow pulse
- Cold, clammy, pale or bluish skin
- Loss of consciousness: Inability to awaken a person with loud shouting, or inability of a person to remain awake for more than 2-3 minutes or to carry on a coherent conversation when awake (semi-conscious)
- A person who has lost consciousness and cannot be awakened is in danger of dying. Help is needed immediately.
How Do I Help a Friend Who Might Be Experiencing Alcohol Poisoning or Overdose?
- Call 911 or the William and Mary Police Department at 757-221-4596, if on campus.
- If you are in a residence hall on campus, send someone to notify Residence Life staff, but do not leave the person alone.
- Stay with the person until emergency help arrives.
- Be prepared to give the emergency medical personnel as much information as possible including the amount and type of alcohol or substances consumed.
What Should I NOT Do When Helping Someone Experiencing Alcohol Poisoning or Overdose?
- Do not hesitate to call 911 or William and Mary Police Department at 757-221-4596, if on campus. The person's life is in danger. Better to be safe than sorry.
- Do not leave the person alone. The person may seem to be okay, but the alcohol ingested may take some time to be absorbed before peak levels are reached in the brain.
- Do not try to give the person anything to eat or drink.
- Do not put the person in a cold shower. The person could fall or the shock could make him/her pass out.
- Don't just let him or her "sleep it off” or “take care” of the person.
Adapted with permission from the Florida State University’s Medical Amnesty FAQ page.