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IUSA campaigns Lifeline in Ind. high schools





The law grants a degree of legal immunity to underage students who seek medical help for an intoxicated friend.

“We’re still focused on the university level,” IUSA Vice President of Administration Pat Courtney said. “We have a whole team dedicated to that, but having the opportunities to go to these high schools where these problems start, where kids fear the legal system even more than the college students ... it’s really a great event to be a part of.”

IUSA President Kyle Straub and Courtney visited Theodore Guerin Catholic High School in Noblesville, Ind., and Noblesville High School on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. They will visit Carmel High School on Monday.

Ten more high school visits are being discussed, though dates are still being finalized, Courtney said.

“It’s a student-to-student approach,” Courtney said. “We know the pressures they are facing. They really need to think about their choices and know that by making good choices, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to have fun.”

Currently, IUSA is undergoing a “marketing blitz,” a vigorous push to raise awareness of the law, concerning the Lifeline law, Courtney said.

“What we’ve found is that it really depends on how many students we are able to reach and able to educate,” IUSA Chief of Staff Augustin Ruta said. “Half the battle was passing the bill. Now, getting people to use it and be aware of it is the other half.”

The idea for the Indiana Lifeline Law originated as Hoosier P.A.C.T., or Proactive Alcohol Care and Treatment, though they cover two distinctly different systems of authority, Courtney said.

Both policies encourage students to call for help for an intoxicated friend whose life might be in danger by taking away certain punishments and sanctions for underage drinkers who call for emergency services.

Hoosier P.A.C.T. was instituted more than a year ago and covered any sanctions the University would issue to intoxicated students who called for help.

P.A.C.T. also covers other drug-related offenses and will protect the at-risk student from University sanctions, as well as the friend who called emergency services.
P.A.C.T. does not have any legal standing, Courtney said.

“It doesn’t seek to punish these individuals but have them learn from it and grow from it,” he said.

Lifeline covers the legal issues involved, though it only covers the person calling for emergency services, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said on Oct. 15.

“We’re trying to remove the disincentives to pick up the phone and make the call,” he said.

This August, after Lifeline was passed and became law, Carmel student Brett Finbloom died from alcohol poisoning. His parents, Norm and Dawn Finbloom, now help drive the efforts to spread awareness of the Lifeline Law so others do not suffer the same fate, Courtney said. The Finblooms schedule and play a large role in the high school convocations.

“They are there to drive home the point that no one is invincible,” Courtney said.

On-campus efforts to spread awareness of the Lifeline Law have also picked up, he noted. Campaigning began toward the end of spring 2011, commencing with speaking tours and flyer handouts.

Overall, IUSA seeks to encourage a “culture of care” to inspire students to make safe choices, he said.

“Students aren’t having to binge drink every night of the weekend,” Courtney said. “We’re trying to make it a more safe culture.”

IUSA has also been in contact with the IU Panhellenic Association and the Interfraternity Council to develop a relationship and help spread the word about Lifeline, Ruta said.

“The greek constituency makes up a large component of campus,” he said. “More concentrated efforts are
easier there.”

Currently, IUSA is working on an email campaign, as it is an easy way to reach a lot of students, Ruta said.

Logistics are still being worked out for when that message will be available.

“We’re not naive that students will read it thoroughly, but we hope the headlines will have students look over it and absorb some information,” Courtney said.

The Lifeline push is a continually developing process, Ruta said.

“We are always brainstorming new initiatives,” Ruta said. “At our weekly executive meetings, ways to push Lifeline are always
discussed.”

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