On far too many college campuses, illegal drug and alcohol consumption has become a rite of passage. School administrators across the nation have taken steps to crack down on abuse and hold offenders accountable with punishments ranging from suspension to expulsion. In many cases, those tactics have produced desired results. But they've also led to at least one unintended consequence: students who are afraid to seek help when they or their friends need medical attention. Students' silence can be devastating, resulting in serious injury or death for a person who might have been aided by a call to 911.
To combat such inaction, the University of South Florida has adopted a medical amnesty policy. It encourages students or organizations to report medical emergencies that arise because of drug or alcohol use without concern about discipline or sanctions. School administrators say it is not a free pass. It is an attempt to save lives. The university may still call students' parents and require counseling. If applicable, criminal charges may apply for things like property damage or assault.
But USF's new policy tries to coax students into adopting one of life's most noble precepts: doing the right thing without concern for one's own predicament. It is a sound move by the university and an invitation that students should accept whenever they need it.