UK updates amnesty policy to reduce shame when students seek drug or alcohol related intervention

University of Kentucky updates amnesty policy to reduce shame when students seek drug or alcohol related intervention
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 6:07 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The University of Kentucky announced on Thursday that it will be expanding some of the school’s codes of student conduct.

UK representatives said these changes will empower students to know their rights.

“What I hope it means for our students is get yourself or someone help if you even suspect someone may need it,” said Hannah Simms, UK Associate Dean for Student Behavior.

Simms said the school’s newest amnesty policy expansion means that students should not be afraid of getting in trouble when seeking help for a drug or alcohol-related emergency.

“We are working on making sure that our policies, both the code of student conduct and the amnesty policy within it, reflect what we talk about with students every day, which is take care of yourself first. Get the help when needed and we will worry about what comes next after that help has been attained,” she said.

Simms said procedures are in place to ensure the policy is not abused and that those behaviors are not repeated.

“The educational resources that we are putting in front of students as part of the amnesty process are going to meet their needs and meet them exactly where they’re at.”

Recovery Café Lexington Manager Kara Brown-Floyd said she thinks this policy change will help to remove the shame many people have when asking for help.

“The opposite of substance use is not recovery, it’s community,” said Brown-Floyd. “So, when you allow people to be there for each other and create a community, its just gonna help make a stronger and healthier community on UK’s campus.”

Brown-Floyd said this update can potentially impact the stigma surrounding recovery as a whole.

“Fear of academic consequences or something like that really creates and enhances or encourages that same shame and guilt. It prevents people from seeking the help that they may need. I think its amazing. I think that its a huge step forward and it can really help a lot of people,” Brown-Floyd added.

If any parents or caregivers have questions about how this policy will impact their students, Simms asks them to contact UK’s Office of Student Conduct.