Good Sam abused to get rid of annoying friends
By Mat Grudzien, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, March 7, 2008
Those who tend to wander through their hallways after a night of drinking, preventing other students from sleep, now risk confrontation with the latest method of resolving personal conflicts -- unwarranted Good Samaritan calls -- which seem to be on the rise among Dartmouth students.
In one instance, an intoxicated student, who wishes to remain anonymous, decided to annoy his floormate to entertain himself and the floormate, angry and also intoxicated, called Safety and Security in response.
"I was already sleeping in my room, and then I hear someone banging on my door," the student said. "A [Safety and Security] officer came in and asked me if I was drinking. As soon as I said yes, she told me I have to go to Dick's house."
The Safety and Security officer assumed the student's health was in danger, having interpreted the floormate's call as a Good Sam call, the student said.
A Good Sam call to Safety and Security solicits medical attention for an intoxicated student but absolves the student from disciplinary action by the College.
"The officer did not assess whether I actually needed medical attention" the student said. "I was nowhere near being sick."
Safety and Security always assumes that Good Sam calls indicate legitimate concerns for another student's safety, according to Harry Kinne, director of Safety and Security and college proctor. A call provoked by any other reason is an abuse of the policy, he said.
The Dartmouth identified two more cases in which students exploited the Good Sam policy to irritate or get back at a classmate.
"I've been called Good Sam on because I was arguing with my friend, and he got annoyed with me," another student said. "I will call Good Sam on him on the next occasion."
"It's going to be a Good Sam war," he added.
Despite possible abuses, the policy is generally beneficial to the students, Dean of the College Tom Crady said.
"The whole issue of [calling Good Sam] falsely concerns me, but I would rather have somebody call me than not call me in that situation," he said. "One of the things that is hard about alcohol is that it's difficult to truly assess whether the students are in danger."
The abuse of the Good Sam policy may decrease its general efficiency, according to Kinne.
"We would discourage people from using it in any other way other than genuine concern," he said. "We don't want people to use the [Good Sam] policy in a way that would diminish the likelihood that other students would use it in a legitimate way."
The Good Sam policy does not involve any disciplinary consequences, regardless of how many times a particular student has been a subject of the call, Kinne said.
"The most important thing is that people who need medical treatment due to alcohol receive it," he said.
Although the policy does not involve any disciplinary repercussions, the students who were subjects of the Good Sam calls face other consequences.
The first student anonymously interviewed by The Dartmouth said that he will have to pay about $250 for his night at Dick's House, may be facing a school fine for drinking and is currently attending alcohol education classes after a meeting with his community director.
These consequences often make students hostile to the policy, Trevor King '11 said.
"I think students would often rather puke all over their rooms than go to Dick's House, pay the fees and do all the other stuff connected to the Good Sam policy," he said. "The repercussions also prevent people from using [the policy] because they don't want to get their friends in trouble."
The Good Sam policy, despite its shortcomings, helps solve the alcohol violation problems on campus, Crady said.
The number of alcohol policy violations diminished throughout the last three years and the number of Good Sam calls increased to 78 last year, Kinne said.
"The benefits far outweigh the negatives," Crady said.