Responsible Community Action


The health, safety, and welfare of Columbia students and our community are of primary concern. Students are encouraged not only to look out for their own health and safety but also for that of their peers. As such, all Columbia students are expected to enlist support from Public Safety or CU-EMS in the event of a medical emergency, specifically those involving the use of alcohol or drugs. 

The student who receives medical assistance, the student who reported the medical emergency, others involved, or the group/organization that actively seeks assistance will not be subject to disciplinary action for use or possession of alcohol or drugs. This policy does not preclude disciplinary action for other violations beyond the context of the medical emergency such as causing or threatening physical harm, sexual misconduct, damage to property, harassment, or hazing. Students should also be aware that this policy does not prevent action by local and state authorities. Public Safety or other University staff will record the name of the student receiving medical assistance and may record the name of the student who reported the medical emergency and others involved to enable any educational follow-up that may be deemed necessary to ensure students’ well-being. 

In order for this policy to apply, the student(s) receiving medical assistance must agree to timely completion of recommended alcohol or other drug education activities, assessment, or treatment depending on the level of concern for student health and safety. Typically, the student who is transported to an emergency room will attend a mandatory meeting with a member of Residential Life. This meeting is not considered part of the disciplinary process, but rather an opportunity to discuss the student’s decisions related to alcohol or other drug use. The student is then required to attend BASICS, a program which offers an opportunity for the student to learn about their behaviors as they relate to alcohol and other drugs. Please visit BASICS for more information on this program. Additional referrals may be generated by Residential Life on an individual basis according to the nature of each incident and the needs of each student. Referrals may include alcohol or other drug assessments, appointments with an appropriate specialist, and community service. Serious or repeated incidents will prompt a higher degree of concern and progressive follow-up. Failure to complete recommended follow-up may result in disciplinary action.

When incidents of alcohol or other drug consumption at an event held, sponsored, organized or supported by a student group/organization are reported, at minimum, student groups/organizations will have a meeting with the group adviser and a member of Residential Life staff. At this educational meeting, a student group/organization may receive recommendations for more responsible hosting and the group/organization may be asked to participate in additional educational or training efforts. Groups/organizations enlisting medical assistance transport at their event(s) must agree to implement recommended steps to address concerns. Serious or repeated medical emergencies from events hosted by groups/organizations will prompt progressive follow-up. Failure to complete recommendations, education, or training may result in disciplinary action.

Conversely, not seeking assistance for a member of our community in medical need may have serious and lasting consequences. Disciplinary action will be severe for any student or any student group/organization interfering with another’s ability to take responsible community action.

To help a member of our community in need of medical assistance, students should:

  • Call Public Safety at 212-854-5555 to enlist CU-EMS. If the incident occurs in the residence halls, call or send someone to notify the RA on-duty in addition to calling Public Safety. Do not leave the person alone.
  • Stay with the person until emergency help arrives.
  • Turn the person on their side to prevent choking in case of vomiting.

Please see the Columbia Health website for information about alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs including important information about alcohol poisoning, drug overdose, and other health and wellness issues