ASUC Senator proposes bill supporting campus responsible bystander policy

Ethan Epstein/Senior Staff

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SQUELCH! Senator Anthony Carrasco proposed a bill in support of a campus responsible bystander policy, which went into effect at the beginning of August.

The responsible bystander policy states that underage students who seek medical help for themselves or their friends while intoxicated will not be subject to a student code of conduct violation. According to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande, this is meant to remove barriers, such as fear of punishment, that may discourage students from seeking medical assistance for their intoxicated friends.

“I submitted (the bill) to bring attention to the huge policy shift on campus,” said Carrasco. “It encourages bystander intervention, and it’s going to save a lot of lives.”

The policy is not the first of its kind in California, as the state passed a similar law in 2010 protecting minors from being prosecuted for underage drinking while calling for help.

The UC system maintains administrative autonomy, so this policy marks the first time any such approach to underage drinking will be enforced on campus. Unlike the state law, the campus policy applies to students under the influence of drugs as well as those who have been drinking underage. 

Other UC schools that have implemented similar policies don’t show increases in drug use among the student body, but do show an increase in the number of medical calls, according to Carrasco. Le Grande said the policy was developed in conjunction with ASUC senators and the Compliance and Enterprise Risk Committee, as well as UCPD.

The new policy only protects students from administrative punishments — students can still face legal trouble for drug use, even if they call for medical help. Carrasco said, however, that UCPD will not pursue disciplinary actions against such students unless they deem it necessary — if a student is acting violently, for example.

Anderson Lanham is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AndersonLanham.

A previous version of this article and its accompanying headline incorrectly stated that the ASUC Senate passed a bill supporting the campus responsible bystander policy. In fact, the senate has not passed the bill.