New Year & New Good Samaritan Policy

August 25, 2016
Suzy M. Nelson, Vice President and Dean for Student Life, 2016–2021 |

Dear students,

Welcome to a new year and fresh start! I am Suzy Nelson, your new Vice President and Dean for Student Life.

I want you to know that the Division of Student Life (DSL) is here for students. As partners, we come together for a common educational purpose. It is in this spirit that I write to share some important (and hopefully welcoming) information with you:

  1. As your dean, I want to be accessible to you, to listen to your ideas, and to get to know you better. Since I am new to MIT myself, I am especially aware I have a lot to learn from the MIT community. I’ve already had the pleasure of reading your welcome letters and sitting down with some of you. I am going to introduce myself over the course of several REX events. And, starting on September 9, the DSL team in 4-110 and I will be opening our doors every Friday from 11 am to 12 pm. I encourage everyone to sign up by emailing Victoria Davenport. Please stop by to tell us a little about yourself and your MIT experience.

  2. Since I arrived in July, an issue that has caught my attention is one that students have been raising for some time: MIT’s help-seeking policies (sometimes referred to as the Good Samaritan Policy). Many of you have called for expanding the amnesty rules beyond just alcohol to apply to medical emergencies involving prohibited substances. One student wrote and explained it this way: “I have helped friends and neighbors get help after nights in which alcohol and emotional distress have been dangerously mixed. I would do the same if the substance had been drugs instead of alcohol…And I know that if push came to shove, most other students would too because we care about the people here.”

    Simply put, I agree with you. Chancellor Barnhart does too. Because we are both committed to ensuring that MIT’s policies reinforce and advance a caring, supportive community, we are modifying this policy to respond to your concerns and to make clear that we value your health and safety above all else. MIT’s Good Samaritan Amnesty Policy (GSAP) will now cover students and student organizations that seek help in medical emergencies involving alcohol and prohibited substances. The new policy also provides more protections for student organizations or groups, and for victims and witnesses of crimes or other significant policy violations even if there is no medical emergency. You can read more here or check out our Frequently Asked Questions document for additional details.

    Please help us get the word out about these important changes. We need to raise awareness about and trust in the new policies. I realize this will take time. And I know it matters how words on paper get applied in real life. I believe the new DSL organizational structure, which allows for better connections between our student support and residential life teams, is going to help us get this implementation right and foster transparency with students.

  3. In addition to the GSAP, there are other important health and safety policies that you should be familiar with as we start a new year together. The Mind and Hand Book provides guidance on our community’s values and ideals for living, working, and learning together. It also contains our Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act statement. Please take the time to review The Mind and Hand Book and consider learning more about these other key policies:

With orientation, registration day, and classes just days away, I wish you safe travels to campus and offer best wishes for the start of a new academic year.

Warm regards,

Suzy M. Nelson
Vice President and Dean for Student Life