Skip to main content

Alcohol amnesty will be offered for crime reporters at Utah State

By Hannah McDonald
Oct. 22, 2016

The Utah State University Board of Trustees voted on Friday to approve a new amnesty policy — a student code amendment that protects students who request emergency help while engaged in illegal activity.

Student body present Ashley Waddoups and her executive council approved the policy on Sept. 12.

“We don’t want any student who’s been drinking underage or drinking on campus to be afraid to call the police,” Waddoups said. “With amnesty, you can call the police and say, ‘Hey, there’s a problem going on down there.’ If you call and alert them, you’re not going to be in trouble.”

Medical amnesty became a state law in 2013. The policy grants immunity to illegally intoxicated minors who report a legal or medical emergency, provided they cooperate with law enforcement officers and emergency personnel. 

Utah State University’s policy is an extension of the state law, protecting individuals from academic discipline for breaking university-enforced rules.

“We have never sanctioned a student that was under the influence that did report sexual assault,” student conduct coordinator Krystin Deschamps said. “We would just like to codify it.”

The policy gained public awareness during an Oct. 12 sexual assault prevention presentation with speaker Elaine Pasqua. One attendee asked about the scenario when Pasqua invited the audience to ask questions.

“What would you say to a woman who was raped on campus, but she was drinking and underage?” the attendee said. “And she doesn’t want to go to the cops because we’re a dry campus and she doesn’t want to get in trouble.”

Waddoups responded promptly, explaining that the policy passed in the student body’s executive council and would soon move on to university administration for approval.

Another attendee asked if the policy would extend to an alcohol supplier. 

It depends on the situation, Deschamps said. In a singular incident, the supplier would likely get immunity, but in a recurring situation, the amnesty policy would not apply.

Other attendees expressed support for the new amnesty policy.

“I think it’s brilliant,” said Tyler Blackburn, a member of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. “I honestly don’t think you should be getting in trouble for that. It’s such a life-shattering experience. You shouldn’t be getting yelled at and feel like you have to suppress it down for the rest of your life.”

Waddoups emphasized the importance of codifying the new policy.

“The staff here has been great. Really compassionate, really understanding,” she said. “They don’t want to stymie reporting. But students don’t know that, so that’s a problem. And if there are any staff changes, no one can change their mind and punish students because now it’s in code.”