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New medical exemption policy may increase student safety

Reporting alcohol emergencies is now less likely to lead to code of conduct violations. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Decisions regarding code of conduct violations for drug and alcohol usage are now dealt with on a case-by-case basis when medical emergencies are reported — even if the student in question is a repeat offender. In the past, a student would get one medical exemption when calling in for themself and would automatically earn a code of conduct violation for subsequent incidents.

“After [the student] meets with their dean for the second or third time of this happening, it will be decided if it will be a code of conduct violation or not,” said Pamela McDowell, associate dean of students for residence life.

This change in the medical exemption policy is the result of a meeting this summer between various College administrators, which included the Dean of Students and the Vice President of Student Life, among others. The aim was to make the policy more transparent.

The drinking policy on campus remains the same, however, and penalties still exist for students who violate it. A code of conduct violation, which is now determined on a case-by-case basis, also comes with the consequence of the student being recorded as “responsible.” This label on a student’s record can make a difference when applying to graduate schools.

As a result, students may have felt inclined in the past to risk their safety and not call for help to avoid potential consequences if their medical exception had already already used. The new policy aims to avoid this problem.

“Student safety is our most important facet of almost every single policy,” McDowell said. “I never want a student to be afraid to call for help.”

drewes1@stolaf.edu