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Recommended Reading


"More Colleges Offer 'Amnesty' for Drinking Violations"


In response to growing interest among our partners about medical amnesty policies (also referred as a Good-Samaritan policies)to reduce high-risk drinking, this month’s Recommended Reading summarizes an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education on medical amnesty.

Key Findings

  • Medical amnesty seeks to encourage care-taking behaviors by removing the threat of punishment for alcohol violations.
  • Most programs require students engaging in high-risk behavior to meet with administrators, substance abuse counselors, and/or attend educational programs.
  • While medical amnesty policies vary, on many campuses the policies cover both students who receive medical attention as well as those who get help for a friend. Some campuses’ medical amnesty policies also cover student organizations, such as fraternities.
  • Typically, medical amnesty policies are limited to first offenses; re-offenders are not exempt from violations.
  • While the research on the efficacy of medical amnesty remains inconclusive, many schools implement medical amnesty policies to send a message of support for their commitment to the well-being of their students.

Implications for Prevention Practice

If your campus practices Amnesty, continue to inform the entire student body about your institution’s policy. Students will be more likely to seek help if consequences are clearly communicated.

If you do not practice Amnesty on your campus, consider the pros and cons listed at the end of this article. Learn more about Amnesty programs and policies by reading college program websites or other news articles, such as:

Cornell University:

Bibliographic Reference

Hoover, E. (2007, December 21). More colleges offer ‘amnesty’ for drinking violations. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 54, A1. Retrieved February 23, 2010 from

Access to Article

Interested in reading the entire article? You will need a subscription to The Chronicle of Higher Education to access the full article; visit The Chronicle