Skip Navigation

Myth Busters: Medical Amnesty Edition, 2014

In cases where a student requires medical attention related to alcohol or other drugs, Emory doesn’t want fear of getting into trouble to prevent that person and/or that person’s friends from calling for help. For this reason, the Division of Campus Life developed the Medical Amnesty protocol, which can apply to all Emory undergraduate students.

Medical Amnesty sparks a lot of questions from students, as well as a lot of myths and misconceptions about what it is and what it isn’t. The info below is meant to correct some common myths.

Myth #1: There is no legal drinking age, if you’re on a college campus.

Under Georgia state law, possession of alcoholic beverages by persons under 21 years of age is prohibited; furnishing alcohol to persons under 21 is also prohibited. So the bottom line is, if someone is under 21 and possesses alcohol, that person was not following Georgia state law. And Emory expects students to follow the law.

Myth #2: Ok, but Medical Amnesty is a get-out-of-jail free card.

An Emory education will open many doors for you, but it can’t “get you out of jail” on this one. It doesn’t relate to law enforcement at all. It relates to Emory’s Undergraduate Code of Conduct, which prohibits the use or possession of alcoholic beverages under the age of 21, as well as the use or possession of any illegal drug or controlled substance. What the Medical Amnesty protocol can do is eliminate disciplinary consequences through the Office of Student Conduct.

 If an undergraduate student is deemed eligible for Medical Amnesty, they have the opportunity to complete educational, assessment and/or treatment sessions instead of having a Conduct violation on their academic record for possession or use of alcohol or other drugs. This process also applies to students who called for help for someone else.

However, choosing to use alcohol if you’re under 21 and/or illegal drugs and controlled substances brings risks, including the risk of interactions with state and local law enforcement. You can’t plead “Medical Amnesty” in a DeKalb County or Fulton County court.

Myth #3: If I’m on-campus, I can’t get a Conduct violation for whatever happens that night because of Medical Amnesty.

Medical Amnesty applies to potential Conduct violations for the use of alcohol or other drugs. But it does not eliminate disciplinary action for other violations of the Undergraduate Code of Conduct concurrent with alcohol and other drug use, including but not limited to:

  • Sexual misconduct
  • Physical assault
  • Property damage
  • Unlawful provision or distribution of alcohol or other drugs.

Myth #4: I should claim Medical Amnesty when EEMS shows up.

The Division of Campus Life determines whether or not a student’s case can go through the Medical Amnesty process. The student does not have to claim or apply for Medical Amnesty. Soon after the incident, the student will receive an email informing the student of the course of action. If the case is identified for Medical Amnesty, the student must set up an appointment with a counselor in the Office of Health Promotion.

 

Myth #5: I can choose not to go through Medical Amnesty and save my Medical Amnesty until I do something really wild.

There are many myths here. First, a student does not choose whether or not they will go through Medical Amnesty. It’s not something you can choose to use or not use (or to save). Again, Campus Life determines whether or not a student’s case can go through the Medical Amnesty process. After the incident, the student will receive an email informing them of next steps.

Also, the idea of “saving” your medical amnesty doesn’t really make sense because a student may be eligible for Medical Amnesty on more than one occasion.

Finally, planning to engage in future high risk drinking or drug use is concerning. Even though students may tell each other that “everyone gets EEMSed” at some point, this is not accurate. If you’re engaged in frequent high risk use to the point that you foresee multiple medical emergencies related to alcohol or other drugs, it may be time to talk with Willie Bannister in the Office of Health Promotion (wbannis@emory.edu). He can clarify actual patterns of use on campus and help you identify strategies to lower the risks associated with drinking.

 

Myth #6: You can only go through Medical Amnesty one time.

A student may be eligible for Medical Amnesty on more than one occasion, depending on the specific circumstances of the incidents and at the discretion of the Division of Campus Life. Repeat incidents may prompt Campus Life to have a higher degree of concern for the individual’s health. The type of intervention required will increase in intensity and may involve connection to off-campus services.

Myth #7: Medical Amnesty is only for first year students.

Any incident involving an undergraduate student who receives medical attention for an emergency related to alcohol or other drugs will be reviewed for Medical Amnesty.

Myth #8: Medical Amnesty is only for the student who needs medical attention. If anyone else was also underage and drinking, they will have a Conduct violation.

Medical Amnesty can also be an option for the people who called EEMS and sought medical assistance for another person experiencing an alcohol or other-drug related emergency.


Myth #9: Once Campus Life determines my case is eligible for Medical Amnesty, that’s it. Case closed.

Medical Amnesty is a process. Soon after the incident, the student will receive an email informing them of the course of action. If the case is identified for Medical Amnesty, the student will meet with a counselor in the Office of Health Promotion to talk about what happened.  At that time the student and the counselor will discuss if additional alcohol and/or drug education, assessment and/or treatment is necessary. The counselor will provide notice of completion to Campus Life if/when the student completes the assigned follow-up actions.

If the student completes assigned alcohol and/or drug education, assessment and/or treatment, the incident will not be documented as disciplinary/institutional action on the student’s academic record. If the student fails to complete the recommended follow-up, Campus Life will cease to use the Medical Amnesty protocol and instead will follow the Conduct process as provided by the Undergraduate Code of Conduct.

Myth #10: Medical Amnesty means I don’t have to pay for the ambulance or hospital bills.

Medical Amnesty has no bearing on any medical expenses related to the medical emergency.

Myth #11: Medical Amnesty itself is a myth. It’s just a way to trick you into admitting you drank underage.

Medical Amnesty represents the university’s commitment to protecting the health and safety of students. It provides an option so fear of an alcohol or drug-related Conduct violation doesn’t prevent students from calling for help when they or their friends need it.

The main message is: If at any time you think a friend may be experiencing a medical emergency related to alcohol or other drugs, the Emory community expects that you will call for help. If you’re on-campus, you can call 911 or Emory EMS at 404-727-6111.

Myth #12: There’s no info about Medical Amnesty available to students!

Still have questions? The Office of Health Promotion has information about Medical Amnesty on its webpage.