SGA to modify ‘Got Your Back’

On Jan. 22, Student Government Association (SGA) Senator Julia Michel introduced a resolution seeking to reevaluate and modify the “Got Your Back” alcohol policy at UVM. With this resolution the SGA seeks complete protection for students under the “Got Your Back” policy. The SGA feels that changes, as well as better advertisement of the policy, are crucial elements to campus safety regarding alcohol. The “Got Your Back” alcohol policy was set in place to protect UVM students from punitive action when professional help is sought involving alcohol and substance abuse. If the “Got Your Back” policy is cited in calling for medical attention involving alcohol, the students will not be punished, but rather referred to Alcohol and Drug Services to discuss the incident. This policy allows a student to receive medical attention for alcohol poisoning without being punished by means of academic probation or suspension. The only condition provided is that the individual involved must participate in a health referral, as well as comply with recommendations given by the Office of Alcohol and Drug Services. SGA Senator Scott McCarty cites, however, that the policy is, “ripe with loopholes.” Any student calling into to take advantage of the program must state during the call that it’s a “Got Your Back” call. Additionally, a student may only benefit from a “Got Your Back” call once; any additional incidents involving alcohol will come with disciplinary action.”We shouldn’t punish people for alcohol consumption when the students’ safety is at stake,” Senator Michel said. The concern is that a student might not call for help if they’re concerned with punitive action against them. The push is to amend the policy to provide unlimited protection for students who use the pro?gram. A senator interjected that unlimited “freebies” might, “say it’s okay for a student to continue abusing alcohol.” Michel, however, was quick to counter that changes to the program, “wouldn’t advocate that these students just go free.” If a student uses the “Got Your Back” policy on multiple occasions it should be seen as a red flag, but “the results shouldn’t be punitive.” Jay Taylor testified that the policy “needs to be publicized more. Having been an RA, I say that right now.” A quick survey of a dorm consisting of 30 freshmen showed that only one in five knew of the “Got Your Back” program. “It needs to be more coherent, and comprehensive. People aren’t taking advantage of such an important tool,” Taylor said. “The first step is getting the SGA behind this,” Michel said. After discussion, and a brief vote, the resolution was unanimously passed. SGA President Kesha Ram said, “this is something that really needs to be reevaluated, and I think the administration will be glad to see that.”