Montana State University wild art

Montana State University’s student president is seeking a medical amnesty policy to ensure that if students report someone has taken a dangerous amount of alcohol or drugs, they won’t face discipline for breaking campus rules.

Kylar Clifton, Associated Students of MSU president, will propose the new policy Wednesday to the University Council, the group of three-dozen campus leaders who advise MSU President Waded Cruzado.

Clifton said the proposed policy is intended to make clear that if a student sees someone who’s dangerously intoxicated or taking drugs, they can call for medical help without worrying about facing campus discipline for being a minor in possession of alcohol or for being at a party where illegal drugs are used.

Many campuses around the nation have adopted similar “Good Samaritan” policies, Clifton said. He added that in 2015 the Montana Legislature amended the law that makes 21 the legal drinking age to say someone under 21 may not be prosecuted if they seek medical treatment after drinking intoxicating substances or accompanying a minor to get medical treatment.

The University Council’s procedure is to hear new proposals and vote on them one month later, to give the campus community time to send in any comments or recommended changes.

On Wednesday the University Council will vote on approving three policies.

One would make a few changes in the controversial policy that allows naming MSU buildings, programs and places after wealthy donors. The changes would make the ASMSU student president the ninth member of the Commemorative Tributes Committee, to give students a voice. Other changes would require the committee to hold an in-person meeting and vote during the school year, so the ASMSU president can seek feedback from students.

Two students expressed concern last month that the policy doesn’t go far enough to give students a voice early enough when a major gift is being accepted, while one dean said the policy should do more to protect donors’ privacy.

The University Council will also vote on a policy change to make it easier for students who have to drop out suddenly for medical emergencies to get back into MSU and have F’s wiped off their record. Erin Macdonald Peck, assistant dean, told the council last month that about 150 students a year withdraw suddenly. The proposed change would remove a three-year time limit for seeking withdrawals and change the name of the withdrawal policy to make clear it’s for “medical and other emergencies.”

A third policy change would affect academic misconduct and grievance procedures. If a student plagiarizes or cheats on a test, they typically get a warning letter the first time and for a second offense are suspended from school for a semester. Now students who want to appeal must go first to the faculty member, then the department head, and then the dean, which takes about 40 days. Peck said the proposed change would simplify the appeal to just the college dean, shortening the time to a decision to about 10 days.

Academic grievances over a grade, for example, would eliminate the appeal to the provost, leaving the decision with the dean.

Clifton said students support the changes because the current system takes too long.

The University Council agenda is posted online at http://www.montana.edu/universitycouncil/.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at 406-582-2633 or gails@dailychronicle.com.

Gail Schontzler covers schools and Montana State University for the Chronicle.

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