Good Sam policy does not punish athletes
By Amelia Rosch, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Although rumors have recently circulated that student-athletes who are Good Sammed can no longer compete with their teams, coaches are not automatically notified if one of their players has been the picked up by Safety and Security under the Good Samaritan policy. If a varsity athlete chooses to inform a coach that a Good Sam call was made on his or her behalf, the student can be punished at the coach’s discretion in addition to facing the normal consequences, according to Executive Associate Athletic Director for Varsity Sports Brian Austin.
In the past few years, there have not been many cases of serious sanctions for athletes who have been subjects of Good Sam calls, Austin said.
The repercussions that student-athletes face from coaches in response to Good Sam calls vary from case to case. The Athletic Department is typically notified when a varsity athlete is the recipient of a Good Sam call, but it is up to the athlete to notify their coach, Austin said.
“Usually, athletes do feel compelled to tell their coach themselves because they may feel that they are letting down the team,” he said.
If an athlete decides to inform his or her coach, a meeting takes place between the athlete, the coach and members of the department to discuss how the student could change his or her behavior in the future and what, if any, consequences he or she will face, according to Austin.
“We have an initial discussion focused on how the athlete in question let the team down,” Austin said. “Typically, we want to get the person thinking about being part of the team and the responsibility that entails.”
Sarah Williams ’16, a member of the varsity sailing team, said that her team’s policy regarding a Good Sam call is a two-week suspension for members who are sent to Dick’s House or to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
“You can’t go to any of the team activities,” Williams said. “You can’t go to the workouts for two weeks — you have to do them on your own time.”
Austin said that the Athletic Department’s policy is not punitive because the department does not want to discourage students from taking advantage of the Good Sam policy.
“We believe in the Good Sam policy and what it does,” Austin said.
Hope Wilson ’16, a member of the varsity sailing team, said that she supports the Athletic Department’s policy because it does not discourage athletes from requesting medical attention for intoxicated teammates and other athletes.
“The whole incentive is that the people involved don’t get in trouble for making the call,” Wilson said. “Students shouldn’t have to make the decision about their safety or their friend’s safety over being on a sports team.”
The Athletic Department is currently discussing its policy toward varsity athletes and the Good Sam policy, according to Austin.
“It’s a work in progress,” he said. “It’s a tough issue for us — we believe in Good Sam’s effectiveness in protecting student safety, but we want athletes to know that drinking that heavily can let down their team.”
Both Wilson and Austin said they do not think that automatic punishment for athletes who take advantage of the Good Sam policy would be effective. Such a policy could lead to athletes purposefully not making Good Sam calls in order to avoid potential consequences, Austin said.
“We haven’t sent the message that you can’t get Good Sammed because if you do you will be suspended from your team,” he said. “We don’t want to discourage athletes from using Good Sam and have them try to help their friends by themselves, which could cause more harm.”
Austin said that while there has not been much reaction from student-athletes regarding the Athletic Department’s policy, he has heard from students that they would be less likely to make Good Sam calls if the action led to punishment.