MSA to advocate for med amnesty, fare-free zone

The group will also push for a brief absence policy next semester.

by Tyler Gieseke

The Minnesota Student Association will push for Minnesota medical amnesty laws and a light-rail fare-free zone on the University of Minnesota campus in its lobbying platform.

At a meeting Tuesday, the group passed these two resolutions and the lobbying platform of the Minnesota Student Legislative Coalition for the next legislative session. MSA President Taylor Williams also spoke about what MSA has accomplished this semester and its priorities for the next.

MSA voted in favor of each resolution by a wide margin.

Medical amnesty laws provide underage individuals with protection from a citation when they’ve been drinking alcohol and call for medical assistance. Ten states — including Michigan, New York and Texas — have passed medical amnesty laws, according to the Medical Amnesty Initiative.

Williams said MSA plans to work with the Minnesota Student Legislative Coalition to lobby for these laws but will also reach out to high school student governments, public health organizations and city officials.

“Medical amnesty gives us the opportunity to make a difference for students across the state,” Williams said.

According to University police records, about 20 individuals received underage
drinking citations in the past month.

UMPD Deputy Chief Chuck Miner told the Minnesota Daily earlier this month that the department hasn’t had a case where an underage drinker hesitated to call for help out of fear of a citation. He also said UMPD officers have discretion when issuing

MSA regents representative Kyle Kroll said at first he was concerned that a medical amnesty law might enable more binge drinking, but he said he hasn’t found any studies that support that fear.

Supporters of the resolution are concerned about the safety of students, MSA Speaker of the Forum Sophie Wallerstedt said.

MSA also plans to work with the Metropolitan Council, which oversees Metro Transit, and other stakeholders to establish a fare-free zone between the East and West bank stations of the Central Corridor light-rail line.

The Central Corridor is scheduled to open in 2014.

Williams also gave a “state of the campus” address, outlining goals for the coming semester. He said MSA will work on putting into effect a brief absence policy — for example, if an international student returned home following a death in the family, time away from school would be excused.

MSA will also inform students of the academic misconduct hearing process.

“We need to stand up for students,” Williams said.