Student-led drug policy group gains ground

Aaron Mudd

After months of petitioning for changes to WKU’s drug policy and passing a resolution through the Student Government Association, the WKU chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy has made progress. 

Leitchfield senior Kelly Cannon, the chapter leader, said she’s satisfied with changes to the “Responsible Hilltoppers” policy. 

“I think the policy as it’s stated now on the website is in keeping with what was submitted by SSDP and SGA last spring,” Cannon said. 

The current statement, which is on the WKU Judicial Affairs website, offers students who intervene in or self-report an alcohol or drug-related emergency some protection from Student Code of Conduct violations if the student contacts a university official, remains in the location until help arrives and cooperates with officials afterward. 

Cannon said the policy is meant to encourage student safety. 

“We want to make sure that students feel like they can call for help,” she said. 

Prior to the changes made last month by Michael Crowe, director of Judicial Affairs, Cannon was concerned the wording of the statement was too narrow and only applied to students involved in alcohol-related emergencies. Crowe was unavailable for comment on the statement. 

Cannon petitioned Crowe in an Oct. 23 email by quoting the previous policy, which was worded differently than the current one.

“The policy states: ‘Students who seek medical attention for themselves or for who medical assistance was sought related to consumption of alcohol or drugs may not be charged with violations of the WKU Student Code of Conduct related to alcohol provided they comply with specific conditions,’” Cannon wrote. 

Cannon further explained her concern in an interview prior to the policy change. 

“The policy that I wrote says that students who called for help would not be charged with violations for alcohol or drugs,” Cannon said. 

She said the prior policy didn’t seem to protect students involved in an emergency related to drugs. 

 The wording of the current statement includes that students involved with “drugs and/or activities related to inducing an altered state may not be charged with violations of the WKU Student Code of Conduct related to alcohol or drugs provided they comply with specific conditions.”

Cannon worked with Bardstown junior Barrett Greenwell, the current chair for the Student Affairs Committee for SGA, to write a resolution proposing a policy change. The resolution passed in SGA’s final meeting last semester. When Cannon and Greenwell met with Crowe to talk about implementing the policy, they discovered that Judicial Affairs was already practicing the policy, Cannon said. 

“But if it’s not on the books and students don’t know about it, that’s obviously not helpful,” Cannon said. 

Greenwell helped voice Cannon’s concerns by emailing Crowe. Greenwell said he received an email that the issue was taken care of on Oct. 29. 

Cannon said she was inspired by the Good Samaritan policies that the national Students for Sensible Drug Policy organization campaign for. 

“They have a list of campaigns that as a whole they try to advocate for all over the country and that’s one that we chose to work on here at WKU,” Cannon said.