Student Senate will host a flag display on the UC front lawn from 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Friday to symbolize the number of alcohol-related incidents that occurred at Lehigh in 2017.
A red flag will be placed for every alcohol-related hospitalization and a blue flag will be placed for every time medical amnesty was used in both spring and fall semesters.
Reagan Sullivan, ‘20, the Senate chair of student outreach, was inspired to organize the event after engaging in conversations about medical amnesty and wanted to bring that conversation to students.
“We wanted to show the disparity between the number of hospitalizations versus the times medical amnesty could’ve been used,” Sullivan said.
Nic Thomson, ‘20, the chair of Senate’s safety and wellness committee, said students are often afraid to call for help.
According to The Lehigh University Medical Amnesty Policy, a person seeking medical attention for an intoxicated individual will not be charged with violations of the Lehigh code of conduct related to drug or alcohol consumption. However, “the policy only provides amnesty from the Lehigh University Code of Conduct. It does not grant amnesty for criminal, civil, or legal consequences for violations of federal, state, or local law.”
Thomson said because the person receiving medical attention can get into trouble with the law, students are not incentivized to call for help when their friends are in need.
“The point that we’re really trying to drive home is that students shouldn’t be afraid to call for help for their friends,” Thomson said. “It’s an issue that’s stressed during orientation for the first-years, and it’s not really dwelled upon after that, which is what we’re really trying to get at and fix.”
Sullivan said with the start of a new semester, as well as sorority and fraternity recruitment coming to a close, students should be reminded there is a dangerous side to drinking.
Thomson said the event is based in peer-to-peer education to spread awareness.
“The message is not coming from the administration, or LUPD, where some students might see it as a higher power or ‘the man’ coming down and saying, ‘This is wrong, you can’t do this,’” Thomson said. “It’s peers having a conversation with their community and friends.”
Members of Lehigh’s Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council and Cultural Greek Council will be present at the event to engage in conversation with students passing by.
“We’re tabling and we’ll have hot chocolate so students can walk by and actually get informed,” Thomson said.
He said he is hoping students will stop by the table and talk, rather than just walking by and ignoring the event. Resources will be present to explain the color coding behind the flags.
Lindsay Wilson, ‘18, the vice president of Senate, said the event will call attention to the drinking problem on campus and call on students to stick together, take responsibility for themselves and look out for others.
“It’s a learning tool and a wake-up call,” Wilson said.
Conversations at the event will be focused on safety and accountability.
“We see fraternities taking the hit for people who are too drunk at their parties, but at the end of the day, when you go out in the real world there aren’t going to be fraternities to take the blame for you drinking to excess,” Sullivan said. “Education is where this should start and education is how this problem will stop.”