Wednesday Quick Hit: Amnesty Policy “Best Practice”

SAFER’s Campus Accountability Project isn’t just meant to bring to light the worst of campus sexual assault policies—we also want to recognize some really strong examples! CAP Coordinator Erin alerted me to the below amnesty clause in the student conduct code at Southern Arkansas University. Called the “Good Samaritan Provision,” this piece of policy:

  • Describes why an amnesty policy is necessary
  • Prioritizes students who “need assistance”
  • Encourages anonymous reporting
  • Gives substantive examples

Only 7% (!!!) of the schools in our CAP Database currently have amnesty policies. Does yours? Find your policy and submit it to CAP. We hope to see a piece of your school’s policy here soon.

The health and safety of Southern Arkansas University’s students is of the highest priority. At times, students may need immediate medical or other professional assistance. However, students may be reluctant to get help because of concerns that their own behavior may be a violation of the student conduct code. To minimize any hesitation students or student organizations may have in obtaining help due to these concerns, the University has enacted the following “good samaritan” provision. Although policy violations cannot be overlooked, the University will consider the positive impact of reporting an incident when determining the appropriate response for policy violations. In such cases, any possible negative consequences for the reporter of the problem should be evaluated against the possible negative consequences for the student who needed assistance. At a minimum, students or student organizations should make an anonymous report that would put the student in need in touch with professional helpers. Examples where this policy would apply include:

1. A student is reluctant to call an ambulance when a friend becomes unconscious following excessive consumption of alcohol because the reporting student is under the age of 21 and was also consuming alcohol.

2. A student is reluctant to report that he/she has been sexually assaulted because he/she had been consuming alcohol and is under the age of 21.  It is in the best interests of this community that as many victims as possible choose to report to University officials. To encourage reporting incidents of sexual misconduct, SAU pursues a procedure of offering victims of sexual misconduct limited immunity from being charged for policy violations related to the sexual misconduct incident. Thus, although the University may not impose disciplinary charges, the University may mandate educational options (such as alcohol and other drug assessments and attendance to alcohol education programs) in such cases.

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