Written by College of Charleston SSDP Vice President, Daniel Miles
The story begins last year, during my freshman year at College of Charleston and my first few months as an “SSDP rockstar” (as my old chapter leader Lisa Diamond used to call me). She told me that there was this project I could work on that had been gathering dust for some time, an expansion of the school’s Good Samaritan policy, and that she wanted me to take it over. Although the College of Charleston had a campus-level medical amnesty policy in place, it only covered violations of the school’s alcohol policy. It did not include any immunity provisions or mitigating circumstance provisions for any other drugs. My mission was to convince our school to change that and to expand the policy to include all substances
Well, I had no idea what a Good Samaritan policy was, and I had no idea what to do or who to talk to, so I figured the worst that could happen was that I would fail miserably. As it would happen, I did NOT fail miserably.
This is not to say that things went well from the beginning. I ended up going to the wrong places and talking to the wrong people. Suffice it to say, it was a rough first week or two. But once I found my footing, I ran. Lisa and I carefully studied the school’s existing policy and authored a new bill to propose to Student Government. We found a representative to formalize it for us, and went in front of a room full of our peers to make our case. The student senate grilled me with questions, and I responded (in what I thought) was a clear and concise manner. Happily, the bill passed with a unanimous vote! It was on to the next stage…convincing the school’s administration
This stage was remarkably more rough than the first. I met with the Dean of Students several times. It was clear to me that he was skeptical about the idea and I was became convinced that he was stonewalling me. Not to be held back, my SGA representative and I pushed it through past the Dean (after much gnashing and gritting of teeth, as they say). The next months, seven to be exact, was spent waiting and waiting and waiting. At this point it was out of my hands while I waited for the president and his various departments to approve and deny and consult different aspects of legal jargon that I have no experience with.
And then…it happened.
I got an excited text from the SGA representative I had been working with (who had gone on to become the student body president!) saying that President McConnell (our school president) had approved the bill and it would be announced the following day. And low and behold, the next day, there it was. Both myself and our SSDP chapter were mentioned by name, and the rest of my day was spent basking in the ego-boosting glory of policy change. The process of getting there was largely one big administrative circus. But the result, a change to campus policy that has the potential to positively affect the lives of every student who attends this school in the future made it well worth it.