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Penn State Extends Responsible Action Protocol To Cover Student Who Needed Help

Penn State has updated its Responsible Action Protocol to encourage more students to call 911 in case of emergency, even when the situation involves alcohol.

Pennsylvania’s Medical Amnesty Law and the university’s Responsible Action Protocol already protected students from alcohol charges and disciplinary action if they are drinking or are under the influence of other drugs but call for help for another person in need. This covers a student who contacts authorities, stays with the victim until help arrives, and doesn’t have any other violations, like vandalism or assault. The student will still be required to attend BASICS or another alcohol program, but the fee will be waived.

Now, the Responsible Action Protocol will also protect the person for whom help is sought — whether the student contacts authorities themselves or another student calls for help on their behalf. It’s important to note this change is only to university policy, not state laws, so while the student won’t face disciplinary action from Penn State, they could still face legal action.

“It is critically important for the university to encourage greater personal responsibility among its students, both responsibility for themselves and each other,” Penn State Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims said in a press release. “What pleases me most about this initiative is that it originated from our student leaders, who seek to join with our staff in finding new ways to enhance student safety and well-being, just as it should be.”

UPUA passed a resolution supporting this increased protection through the university’s medical amnesty policies during its final meeting of the fall semester. The resolution was a big stride for the Jordan-Shockley platform initiative to advocate for increased medical amnesty in Pennsylvania, and allowed representatives to work with Student Affairs and the Office of Student Conduct throughout the policy amendment process.

“Guidelines such as the Responsible Action Protocol are in place at Penn State to promote a culture of safety, action, and accountability,” the press release announcing the changes said. “The university takes Pennsylvania drinking laws very seriously; it also recognizes that individual student health and conduct are among its key priorities.”

You can read the full Penn State policies and state laws related to medical amnesty on the Healthy Penn State website.

About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa is a junior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.


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