Amnesty policy protects underage drinkers from discipline

by Temesha Derby, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — The Iowa Senate on March 15 unanimously voted in favor of a bill that provides underage drinkers immunity from legal prosecution in the instance of an emergency.

Senate File 415, led by Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, protects students by enabling them to call 911 without fear of disciplinary action because of alcohol overdoses.

Simpson College has a similar amnesty policy through Residence Life and Simpson security.

Rachel Hollingsworth, a sophomore community adviser, said the amnesty policy at Simpson is a way for the college to say they care about the safety and well-being of its students.

“If someone was a victim or witness to a sexual assault or medical emergency, they should not hesitate to call security or get their CA involved,” Hollingsworth said. “Someone’s safety is more important than their compliance with Simpson’s alcohol policy.”

Chaplain Mara Bailey said the amnesty policy allows for students who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs to make reports on issues of harassment or assault that they may witness or be victim to without fear of being punished or cited for either underage drinking or illegal drug use.

“I’m not sure if many other schools use the policy or not,” Hollingsworth said. “If they aren’t, I think they should be. It communicates to the students that we care about them and we’re not trying to get them into trouble. We’re here to help.”

The amnesty policy can provide one less way for someone to not be hesitant to come forward about a situation that occurred. It removes a possible road block from the various other reasons someone may choose not to report, Bailey said.

“I would never want a resident to be afraid of coming to me for fear of getting into legal trouble when they needed help. I’d rather help them,” Hollingsworth said.

For a more detailed explanation of the policy, students can read it in the Simpson College student handbook on page 30, which can be found on the website.