Frequently Asked Questions
Yale is committed to the health and safety of its students. In alcohol emergencies, getting medical help is critical. This policy encourages students to call for help without hesitation. It has been developed by the Alcohol Recommendations Implementation Committee (ARIC) in consultation with students, faculty, and staff, as part of a larger set of strategies for reducing incidences of high-risk drinking and the harms associated with it.
The medical emergency policy will go into effect within Yale College at the start of the 2014-15 academic year and will be evaluated on an ongoing basis throughout its inaugural year. Observations, comments and suggestions for improvement will be solicited at the end of the academic year.
If you are concerned that someone has had too much to drink, GET HELP.
- passed out and unable to be woken up, OR
- unable to answer simple questions, OR
- unable to walk unassisted.
Stay with the person until help arrives.
- has consumed a lot of alcohol either quickly or over time, AND
- who is conscious AND
- can walk and enter the minibus unassisted
Stay with the person until help arrives, and if possible accompany the person to Yale Health. (If the intoxicated student is being physically supported and/or is vomiting when the minibus arrives, the driver will call the police for transport to the ER.)
Yes. It’s the act of seeking help that matters. The policy still applies if you summon a dean or other authority figure. But in acute situations time may be critical, so you should call the police first, and then your dean.
Let’s say a student is transported by ambulance to the emergency room from a party after other students call for help. Here’s what would happen:
- For the transported student: The student will receive an email from the residential college dean, who will write to make sure the student is okay, and to schedule a conversation about what happened, safety, and other concerns. The student will also be required to consult with someone at Yale Health who specializes in alcohol issues.
- For the students who called for help: These students will be thanked for taking the right action. However, if evidence suggests that they bear some responsibility for the transported student’s medical emergency—e.g., by having supplied their friend with excessive alcohol during a pregame—they must work with the Alcohol and Other Drugs Harm-Reduction Initiative (AODHRI) to eliminate risky drinking practices.
- For the party hosts: The party hosts will have a conversation with a staff member from AODHRI to discuss the circumstances of the transport. If evidence suggests that the hosts were serving alcohol safely, and that they do not bear responsibility for the transported student’s medical emergency, they will not have to complete any training. But if the hosts did contribute to the emergency, or if evidence suggests that the hosts were engaged in other risky practices, they will be required to work with AODHRI to develop better practices.
Assuming that each of these students or student groups fulfills any health or educational requirements in a timely fashion, there will be no disciplinary action against them.
Yes. The intent is to cover anyone who might otherwise be charged with an alcohol violation as a result of a call for emergency medical assistance. Suitemates and friends involved in the incident, for example, are covered.
Counseling is provided by professionals at Yale Health, who will confirm that you have fulfilled the requirement without sharing any information about the treatment itself. The content of the counseling is always kept confidential, except in rare circumstances when students pose an immediate threat to themselves or someone else.
AODHRI will take the lead on this, sometimes with support from other colleagues, drawing on harm-reduction research and best practices already tested at peer institutions. The trainings will be interactive and will be tailored to meet the specific challenges faced by the individual or group. While there are standard best practices that AODHRI universally encourages, AODHRI staff will collaborate to identify strategies most likely to be successful for that particular individual or group.
When working with student groups, AODHRI will require participation from both the leadership and those who actually organize events. To develop workable plans for safe hosting and build consensus around them, everyone needs to be at the table.
Federal laws and Yale policy protect your privacy. It is rare for the university to notify parents or guardians; this happens only when grave safety issues arise or when Yale has serious concerns about a student’s health. Parents/guardians may learn that their children were transported to the emergency room through their health insurance providers. Students usually decide on their own to talk with parents or other adults in their lives.
Students are seldom transported to the emergency room multiple times. If the emergencies continue, students may need to take a voluntary medical withdrawal to focus on treatment needs. Involuntary medical withdrawals are very rare; they only occur if there is an immediate threat to student safety.
Disciplinary action resulting from multiple transports, while rare, can occur in the context of a pattern of behavior. Please see the next FAQ for more details.
These are decisions that will be made on a case-by-case basis, depending on many factors, including:
- how persistent is the behavior?
- how problematic is the behavior?
- how risky is the behavior?
- are educational lessons being willfully ignored?
- is there an active disregard of other students’ safety and wellbeing or the wellbeing of the community?
As this new policy is being implemented, these decisions will be made by a group of representatives from relevant university offices, consulting with colleagues or fact-finding as necessary to determine the appropriate response in each case.
For individual students, no: you are only responsible for completing whatever steps were required of you.
For groups, maybe: if some members fail to complete required training within the agreed-upon timeframe, your group may face disciplinary action.
No. This policy pertains only to alcohol. The University will be reviewing policies related to other substances in the near future. Of course, you should always call for help in any medical emergency, regardless of the cause – and that positive action will be considered as a mitigating factor in any response.