The overarching priority of Emerson College with respect to alcohol and other drugs is to ensure the safety and well-being of our students. The College is committed to providing guidance so that students can learn to develop a responsible approach to social challenges, including whether to use alcohol; how to do so in moderation; and how to comply with local, state, and federal laws governing alcohol consumption. Emerson expects students to abide by laws and College policies regarding alcohol and drug possession and consumption.

For those students who choose to consume alcohol or other drugs, Emerson expects that they do so in moderation and thereby minimize the incidence of alcohol and/or other drug poisoning and alcohol- and/or drug-related injuries. However, the College acknowledges there may be times when students may face medical emergencies involving excessive drinking and/or drug use. In these situations, students are expected to call for assistance (e.g., Resident Assistant, ECPD, 911) when concerned for their own health or welfare, or that of another student. In order to encourage students to seek prompt and appropriate attention for alcohol or any other drug intoxication, the College has instituted a “Help Seeking” policy. Emerson’s Help Seeking policy is applicable to the student requesting medical assistance for oneself, the student seeking medical assistance for another person, and the student for whom medical assistance was sought.

The College values and promotes responsible decision making. When a report clearly documents that a student sought help for themselves or another student, due to excessive alcohol or other drug consumption, the incident will not be referred to the Student Conduct Process as outlined above, since the incident will typically be covered by the Help Seeking Policy. Upon receipt of a report that a student was acting under the scope of the Help Seeking Policy, the Office of Community Standards (OCS) or Housing & Residential Education (HRE) will reach out to the students involved, which may include the student(s) who sought medical assistance to process the incident. Students contacted are expected to cooperate with any instructions provided by the OCS or HRE. When the Help Seeking Policy is applied to an incident, there will not be a formal hearing, however students may be required to participate in educational programs designed to help prevent future safety risks. Such programs can include, but are not limited to: BYOC (Bring Your Own Conversation): A Conversation about Alcohol, Let's Be Blunt: A Conversation about Cannabis, or an ECAPS Substance Abuse Assessment. However, when processing a Help Seeking Policy incident, the Office of Community Standards will not assign disciplinary fines or sanctions and will not report the incident or any follow up to a student’s parents or guardians (i.e. a student’s emergency contact). To the extent permitted by FERPA, the College may inform a student’s emergency contact of a student’s transport to a hospital or medical facility for the reported misuse of alcohol or other drugs.

A record of the incident and use of the Help Seeking Policy will remain on file. Please note that this policy does not excuse or protect those who repeatedly or flagrantly violate the Alcohol and Other Drug Policy. If the Help Seeking Policy has been applied to a student for a prior incident, the availability of Help Seeking Policy for a subsequent incident is at the discretion of the Associate Director for Community Standards or a designee. The Help Seeking Policy for alcohol or drug violations, however, will not be given to students whose conduct placed the health or safety of any other person at risk.

Amnesty for Students who Report Sexual Misconduct

Emerson College encourages reporting of sexual misconduct and seeks to remove any barriers to reporting by making the procedures for reporting an incident of sexual misconduct (“an incident”) transparent and straightforward. The College recognizes that a student who has been drinking or using drugs at the time of an incident also may be hesitant to make a report because of potential disciplinary consequences for their own conduct. Thus, a student who reports sexual misconduct, either as a complainant or a third-party witness, will not be subject to disciplinary action by the College for their own personal consumption of alcohol or drugs at or near the time of the incident, provided that any such violations did not and do not place the health or safety of any other person at risk. The College may, however, initiate an educational discussion or pursue other educational remedies regarding alcohol or other drugs.

Recognizing Signs of Intoxication/Overdose

If you drink or have friends who drink, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning; it’s not necessary for all of these symptoms to be present before you seek help. Those signs followed by an asterisk may also indicate opiate or sedative/hypnotic drug overdose.

  • Vomiting
  • Confusion, stupor*
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths a minute)*
  • Irregular breathing*
  • Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
  • Low body temperature (feels cold and clammy to touch)*
  • Unconsciousness (“passing out”)*
  • Signs of an amphetamine overdose may include:
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased temperature/sweating
  • Behavior changes indicated by increased anxiety, delirium, or psychosis

A person who is unconscious or can’t be roused is at risk of dying.

Seek Assistance

Even if you don’t see the classic signs and symptoms, but suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, err on the side of caution and seek immediate medical care. In an emergency, follow these suggestions:

If the person is unconscious, breathing fewer than eight times a minute, or has repeated and uncontrolled vomiting, call 911. Remember that even when someone is unconscious or has stopped drinking, alcohol continues to be released into the bloodstream and the level of alcohol in the body continues to rise. Never assume that a person will “sleep off” alcohol poisoning.

Don’t leave an unconscious person alone. While waiting for help, turn the person on their side; don’t try to make the person vomit. People who have alcohol poisoning have an impaired gag reflex and may choke on their own vomit or accidentally inhale (aspirate) vomit into their lungs, which could cause a fatal lung injury. Your assistance and support in helping the College keep you and your fellow students safe is most appreciated.