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Q & A with Julianne Ohotnicky, Dean of Students

Julianne Ohothicky recently responded to questions regarding the establishment by the college of a new amnesty policy in cases of medical emergencies related to alcohol use on campus.

The Gate: What was the process for developing this policy?

Julianne Ohotnicky: This policy is modeled after similar ones now in effect at other colleges and universities, including such schools as Brown, Cornell, Harvard and
Princeton universities, MIT, the University of Pennsylvania and University of Vermont. It came out of discussions between various offices within the area of the Dean of the College.

Gate: Why was this policy needed?

JO: Smith's alcohol amnesty policy seeks to decrease the likelihood that a
student will hesitate to seek help in an emergency by granting amnesty from
the college's punitive judicial policies.

In an emergency situation, students need to make an immediate decision as to
whether or not to call for help. They can only make a confident decision to
call for help if they are aware that Smith's policy will shield them from
punitive action. While we would hope that all students would make the
decision to call for help, having a written policy helps to clarify and
communicate what is important -- the well-being of the student.

Gate: How does this policy gel with state law?

JO: The policy does not legalize illegal behavior. It  only changes the manner in which the college addresses certain incidents. From the standpoint of the Public Safety officers, the call is for a medical emergency.

Gate: What do you expect the new policy to accomplish?

JO: The policy promotes education and treatment  as well as safety and responsibility in order to reduce the likelihood of future occurrences.

Follow-up evaluations and counseling are fundamental components of the policy. Amnesty is only granted when a student meets with the Director of Health Services and either the Area Coordinator or the Wellness Education Director (as determined by the Office of Student Affairs.)

9/26/08   Compiled by Kristen Cole
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