The Summer Editorial Board: Sacrificing Safety
By The Summer Editorial Board
Published on Friday, August 10, 2012
While Dick’s House remains open for the summer, the nursing department — which during most terms provides all care after 4 p.m., remains open throughout the night and ensures student well-being over the weekends — is conspicuously closed. Sophomores who are required by the College to take classes during the summer and live on or near campus have few options for medical care once Dick’s House closes for the day.
Consequently, students that need medical attention after 4 p.m. or on the weekends must seek help at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center or wait to schedule an appointment when the office opens on Monday morning.
The nursing department closure has several worrying implications, the most obvious of which is that students do not receive the expected services that their tuition covers in other terms. But as we approach the summer’s big Fieldstock weekend, this closure’s effect on the Good Samaritan policy is an especially pressing issue.
While the Good Sam policy remains in effect over the summer, the option of being taken to Dick’s House by Safety and Security is no longer available. Students are either automatically taken to DHMC, or Safety and Security finds a friend to take care of the intoxicated student. When considering the intentions behind the Good Sam policy, this closure seems counterproductive to the ultimate goal of protecting students’ safety.
Many students are uninformed about the way the Good Sam program currently operates and are under the impression that calling a Good Sam will automatically result in a friend’s transport to DHMC and possible prosecution by the Hanover Police. Although this is not the case, the perceived risks of calling in a Good Sam will drastically lower bystander intervention. Misconceptions about the policy in the summer will only further these concerns, exacerbating an already dangerous scenario.
This summer has already seen the cutback of a harm reduction initiative meant to facilitate student accountability. The College will no longer provide Green Team funding for unregistered parties (“College plans to limit funds for Green Team,” July 17), creating an environment in which organizations hosting events with alcohol will avoid seeking out third parties that could prevent students from becoming dangerously intoxicated. Instead, this alcohol-related harm will only be dealt with in its aftermath, a far more dangerous approach. We feel that such a change ignores the reality of alcohol consumption by underage students and the overall effectiveness and benefits of harm reduction programs.
This editorial is not the first time Dick’s House policies have been criticized (“Unsafe Hours,” Jul. 15, 2011). Last year’s Summer Editorial Board pointed out that “there is no reason, fiscal or otherwise, that can justify jeopardizing student health.” Budget concerns or not, student safety should never be compromised.