BGSU students propose alcohol amnesty

BOWLING GREEN, OH (Toledo News Now) - David Neely is the Vice President of BGSU's Undergraduate Student Government. He says he's lived on campus for two years, and during that time, he has seen several  students who needed to call 911 because of alcohol poisoning.

Neely says those people hesitated because they were underage and scared of the consequences; he hopes to eliminate that factor with a citywide proposal that would legally protect people in those situations.

"This legislation would protect the human rights, the health of the individual," Neely said. "As opposed to letting the situation spiral out of control and potentially end with a death."

The idea isn't new to Bowling Green. The city tabled the issue last year when students presented a similar proposal. Council members like Robert McOmber say they understand the safety concerns, but they don't believe 911 amnesty would solve the problem; they also say they want to encourage personal responsibility.

"Just because someone's in a vulnerable position, that doesn't exempt you or make you not responsible for your own behavior anymore," McOmber said. "And there was certainly, along that line of reasoning, some hesitancy to seriously, really consider the legislation."

Student Government says this time around, the proposal is more specific. For example, a large group of people at a party would not receive amnesty if one person goes to the hospital for alcohol poisoning; only the patient and the person who called for help would be protected.  However, council members say that may not be enough.

"I would be pretty surprised, frankly, if there were any majority on council that would seriously consider this kind of request," McOmber said.

BGSU's Dr. Terry Rentner studies binge drinking.  She says she supports 911 amnesty because she believes it encourages students to take responsibility by calling for help.  She says some of the opposition to amnesty comes from misperceptions.

"If we equate that having this program's going to lead to more people drinking, that would be a big mistake," Dr. Rentner said. "Because we know that so many other factors go into high risk drinking. If we can teach them to make healthier choices, then I think we're doing our job."

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