(image credit: Madyson Alexander)

Executive Director of Community Standards Jay Tifone sent an email to all SNHU students on February 21 regarding the new Responsible Penmen Policy. The policy went into effect at the beginning of the semester and encourages students and student organizations to seek immediate medical attention for themselves or others in alcohol and drug-related emergencies without fear of a change to their conduct standing (e.g., warning, probation, suspension, dismissal).

In this context, students who need help with alcohol or drug related issues on campus will not be punished for seeking help. Even though a student’s academic standing would not change, he/she may still have to attend a hearing about the incident. A student may also be required to attend educational programs regarding alcohol and drug abuse following the reported incident. A failure to attend said program could result in a change to his/her academic standing.

“We’ve already seen [the Responsible Penmen Policy] used a couple times since January,” said Tifone. “That’s encouraging to me. I don’t know that we would’ve gotten at least one of those cases had students not been aware of the policy. My hope is that as we get more word out, that more students will utilize it.”

This program provides a way for students to seek help. It allows students to learn that asking for help is not frowned upon, but rather the responsible thing to do. Not reaching out in a time of need, Tifone said, “is a very risky thing to do.”

“It is above any student on this campus’ paygrade. We have medical professionals in this community who are trained to be able to assess the level of intoxication of a student and to determine whether medical intervention is necessary. That’s what they have their training and schooling around.”

However, this policy is not an excuse for students to ignore the rules on campus.

“Abuse of this policy won’t be considered a valid use of the policy,” said Tifone. “Should a student overuse this policy we would be having some pretty serious conversations with the student around their alcohol or drug use.”

Tifone also clarified that these conversations would be happening with the student who was reported, not the student reaching out for help.

“If we can intervene, get students support, and get students to encourage friends to get support, then I think Responsible Penmen Policy is doing its job,” he said.

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