Dealing with alcohol poisoning: 1. keep them awake and engaged 2. if they are laying down, move them to their side 3. don’t give them more alcohol or coffee or try to “sober them up” in any way
If someone needs help, call 911. Don’t worry about repercussions.
That’s the message Cal Poly is sending to students.
Granting amnesty was already an informal practice, but on July 3, the message became an official campus-wide policy.
The idea behind the policy is to encourage students to call for help without worrying about getting into trouble.
“It’s about looking out for your fellow Mustang,” Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Clare O’Brien said.
The president’s office and the office of student affairs drove the policy because of past tragedies, O’Brien said. In some of those incidents, students may have hesitated to call for fear of ramifications, she said. Posters promoting the policy state: “Save your friend. Not your butt.”
Student Affairs ran the policy by student leaders such as the Associated Students, Inc. president, greek councils and all other student groups to review and approve this policy so it made sense, O’Brien said.
“It’s important for everyone to have a clear understanding of expectations and procedures,” Director for Student Rights and Responsibilities Adrienne Miller said.
Fresno State, Cal Poly Pomona and many other California State University campuses have similar policies, Miller said.
Even if the student is drunk or has been taking other drugs at an event sponsored, organized or supported by a Cal Poly affiliated student group or club, that group should still call 911. Reporting the problem will benefit the group when Cal Poly decides which sanctions should be taken against the group.
Actually, not calling for help could be considered an “aggregating factor,” according to the policy.
While called an amnesty policy, it is not a strict amnesty policy because there is still the possibility of sanction, depending how the policy is applied to a certain case, Miller said. The university police department could also respond if they feel it necessary, Miller said.
If an organization does call for help, the sanctions may be minimal or none, Miller said. But if it doesn’t call, the organization will be looking at serious sanctions, she said.
“We want to support safety and well being, and that’s what we’re really looking for,” Miller said. “So we want people to call for help.”
If you are in trouble, call 911 if you can. You will see the same amnesty an organization sees, O’Brien said.
This protocol does not, however, preclude disciplinary action for other violations such as assault, hazing or sexual misconduct that might arise from the same incident.
According to Director of Health and Counseling Services Dr. David Harris, the purpose of the policy is to encourage people to do the right thing.
If someone is exemplifying the following symptoms, Harris said, call for help:
- Slow breathing – fewer than eight breaths a minute
- Irregular breathing (for example, if they breathe regularly and suddenly stop for 10 seconds or more)
- Pale or blue-tinted skin
- Cold to the touch
- Unconscious and can’t be easily awoken
Harris recommends the person who called for help should stay with the inebriated student. Keep them awake and engaged if possible. If they are laying down, move them to their side, so they don’t choke on their own vomit. Don’t try to give them any more alcohol or coffee to drink, or try to “sober them up” in any way. Just stay, and try to answer any questions emergency personnel ask.
“You can’t just assume they are going to be able to sleep it off,” Harris said. “It’s better to have a false alarm then a dead friend.”