Article by Erin Corcoran <firstname.lastname@example.org>
On Tuesday, August 29th, students filled the Musser Auditorium for Student Government’s first Senate Meeting of the semester. The schedule included typical beginning-of-year formalities, including changes made to club funding, Wismer improvements, and the introduction of new Student Affairs Staff members. The hot topic of the night, however, was the changes to the student handbook and the Good Samaritan Policy.
The Good Samaritan Policy is a way for students to call for medical assistance in a crisis without fear of disciplinary action for their behavior. For many years, Ursinus has used this Policy in practice, according to Dean of Students Missy Bryant, but it was not included in the handbook until last school year, reflecting the change of Pennsylvania codifying immunity for college students seeking medical attention last year (section 6308). Because of the passage of this law, Student Affairs added the Policy by mirroring language found in the policies of other colleges in the Centennial. After further deliberation, they concluded the language in last year’s Policy regarding hosts and registered events read too broad and worked towards the changes reflected in this year’s handbook.
Communicated at the end of August, the Good Samaritan Policy was adjusted for the 2023-2024 year to add additional information regarding event hosts, with the handbook now stating, “In circumstances where a student or organization is found to be hosting a registered event where medical assistance is sought for an intoxicated guest, and the hosting organization or student contributed to the needed medical assistance, the hosting organization or student(s) may be held responsible for violations of the Code of Conduct.” The language of this changed from last year, which did not include guidelines about the host or student contributing to the medical attention.
Adding liability for hosts, concerned students argue, will cause students to hesitate to call for help in situations of crisis. The student calling and the one injured will still have protections.
According to Dan Kelly, Associate Dean of Students, the updated policy includes more direct language to cover “egregious behaviors,” such as forcing drinks, hazing, or excessive selling of alcohol to students under 21. Student Body President Ben Douglas spoke about the legal barriers faced towards codifying terms into the handbook such as “egregious” or “excessive” to the policy, as they can be difficult to define, but are included in the how the administration explains and will address the College’s policy when enacted.
The administration is scheduling meetings with SGA and concerned students to better clarify the Good Samaritan Policy. Until these changes are made, students should not hesitate to reach out for medical attention if someone needs it.
Other handbook changes for this school year include:
Banning of LED lights
The banning of LED light strips also confused some members of the student body. At the Senate meeting, Ben Douglas said this change was made because Facilities reported damaged walls from the lights’ adhesive.
Bears Own Up
Bears Own Up is a new resolution option for students who violate the Code of Conduct. It states, “Students who choose to accept responsibility for violations of the Student Code of Conduct may forgo an administrative hearing and opt to move through Bears Own Up. Through this method, students work with a Student Affairs staff member to create a plan for them to repair any harm caused by their actions, rebuild trust with those impacted, and make sure no further violations of the Student Code of Conduct occur in the future.”
A new addition to the handbook states that more than 50% of dorm walls cannot be covered. Executive Director of Campus Safety Gabby Wright talked more about this at the Senate meeting as well. She discussed how some students decorate their walls with wrapping paper along with having candles and hot plates in their rooms, creating a fire hazard. The handbook now also specifies that appliances such as fridges and microwaves must be plugged into a wall, not a power strip.
New Member Education (NME)
The length of Greek Life NME is now shortened, with a six-week maximum rather than eight.
“Beirut, beer pong, or water pong tables” have been added to the list of banned binge drinking paraphernalia. Dan Kelly spoke about this change at the Senate Meeting, adding that all of these games encourage excessive drinking, even in cases using water.
Students can find the handbook on Ursinus’s website and direct any questions about these changes to Dean of Students Missy Bryant.