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Friday, June 21, 2024

As I sat in the University Police Department's "classroom," watching a slide show jam-packed with gory images of drunk driving accidents and roads littered with mangled bodies, I felt like something wasn't right.

Sure, I can understand why people who were arrested or cited for serious alcohol-related infractions might have to suffer through this PowerPoint from hell, but I had violated the alcohol section of the University Student Code of Conduct-and I wasn't even drunk.

But my friend was, and I took her back to her dorm where I thought she could get some assistance. Instead of help, we both got slapped with a hold on our records, a mandatory alcohol seminar and a meeting with UF's judicial board.

Luckily for all of you, UF has adopted a new policy waiving student disciplinary action under certain conditions. This was done in the hopes that all students will call for medical help for themselves or their friends during alcohol, drug or other health emergencies.

UF's new Medical Amnesty Policy, known as MAP, aims to remove unnecessary concerns about disciplinary action for students seeking assistance in response to serious or life-threatening incidents related to alcohol or drugs.

"We hope students will think about safety first, so they can get medical attention first and not worry about the consequences until later," said Jeanna Mastrodicasa, a member of the Campus Alcohol and Drug Education Policy Committee that put forward the proposal.

Safety is something to worry about when drinking. Even though the policy is only a few weeks old, students have already been buzzing about it.

"I think students won't be afraid to get the help they need with this new policy. It makes student safety a priority, which is how it always should be," sophomore political science and music major Collin Thompson said.

So who qualifies for amnesty?

"It's a case-by-case basis; we try to use common sense," said Mastrodicasa. "If a student needed legitimate medical attention for a drug or alcohol emergency, they would probably get amnesty. But if there's someone who might be doing things like this five times in a row, we might consider taking some action."

The policy does not extend to the dorms or student housing, which have their own rules according to Mastrodicasa. So even if the university grants you amnesty, you might still suffer some consequences from student housing.

"Yes, you'll still have to meet with someone, but in reality, what's important there is that they get the help they need," she said.

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And I agree. That night I took my drunk friend to her dorm, she did receive medical attention. And I would have sat through 500 more gruesome slide shows to get her the help she needed.

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