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Drew University and Madison Borough Council Compromise on Underage Drinking Law for Now

Bonnie L. Cramer

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 • 9:04am

MADISON, NJ - A good showing from Drew’s Student Government attended last night’s Borough Council meeting to take issue and express their concerns about the new law that prohibits minors from drinking on private property.  While council sought ways to protect children from underage drinking with some serious consequences, Andrew Bishop, President of Drew’s Student Government, took issue with the lack of a “Good Samaritan” clause.  Without it, the overall feeling was a student might not call the authorities for help if there was no clause to protect the caller, otherwise he or she would be guilty by association and, therefore, punishment.   

Several Borough Council members indicated how pleased they were with Drew’s “passion” in stepping out to convey their thoughts about the lack of a “Good Samaritan” clause.  Carmela Vitale, Council Member, indicated that often the council is left to determine matters on particular issues without any input from the people it most affects. 

Robert Landrigan also indicated that the Council never thought about how the law would impact Drew students.  In his mind, Drew students are generally accountable and act responsibly when these kind of situations surface.  As an EMT for Madison, Landrigan indicated, “ In all my years of service, I never responded to a call for help on campus where I witnessed a party in effect or a group of people drinking.  Generally, I arrive at a dorm, I’m led in by an assistant at the residence and I help the student who is ill.”  Landrigan expressed his respect and explained his awareness for how Drew students choose to do the right thing when a problem occurs. 

Overall the Borough Council emphasized a greater concern for the safety of younger Madison children who act irresponsibly by drinking and making poor choices including the decision to drive.  Minors can end up hurt just by walking home after they’ve been to a party not to mention the hurt and destruction that can occur in Madison homes.

A compromise was reached that the new law will become effective after Drew’s May 17th commencement.  Therefore, Drew University students can feel confident in knowing they can call for medical help on behalf of a friend if so needed .  The Borough Council will amend the law further upon the next meeting which will be prior to upcoming events such as June graduation, proms, etc., thereby protecting underage minors to the fullest extent.

Robert Conley, Mayor, of the Borough Council indicated that whatever the law may happen to be, when someone is sick, intoxicated, etc., he would hope that a friend would always “do the right thing” and call for medical help whenever someone is really in trouble.

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