Lifeline Law changes await final approval

Paola Marizan

Changes to Indiana’s Lifeline Law would grant immunity from prosecution to individuals under the age of 21 and under the influence of alcohol who report a medical emergency of any kind.

Changes to the law, which is now on Gov. Mike Pence’s desk for final legislative approval, were voted in by the General Assembly this session.

The revised Lifeline Law also expands to not only legally protect minors who report emergencies while under the influence of alcohol, but to also allow first responders to administer Naloxone and similar medical treatments that counteract the effects of a drug overdose.

The bill is amended to include a comprehensive study of sexual and domestic violence, how many people fall victim to it and explore why such crimes are under-reported.

Dean of Students Angela Batista said it is an important move, which is well aligned with the establishment of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.

“Regardless of why students think someone needs medical attention, the message that we want to send is if someone needs medical attention – because of alcohol – please focus on getting them the help,” Batista said. “We want to make sure people get the help they need. That’s our priority.”

She said a question that always comes up about the lifeline law is, “What about drugs other than alcohol?”

“We make sure students get connected to resources here on campus if they are dealing with something,” Batista said. “They just need to call and say they’re calling for the medical amnesty or Lifeline Law and they will not get in trouble.”

She said USI has done a lot to promote this around campus and plans of a broader marketing campaign are being developed with SGA.

“We have worked really hard to let students in the residence halls know,” Batista said. “Sometimes they think they’re going to get in trouble, but our priority is to help.”

Some tragedies can be prevented by getting in touch with the right help, she said. Students can call or come in to get self-help or help another student.

College Democrats President Cory Ray said he completely agrees with this expansion.

“Students are going to drink. They’re going to do things to relieve stress, but nobody deserves to die just because they’re afraid of the repercussions,” Ray said.

He said students will go through a process of maturity, but before reaching adulthood, they will make mistakes.

“I think this represents the law being more moral,” Ray said. “It can be there to help you, not just restrict you.”

This will impact universities and the community, he said. Alcohol-related tragedies will lessen because of this expansion.

“I would recommend students to not be afraid,” Ray said. “Get help.”