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Parental notification must not be abused, but Penn does have the opportunity to use the device constructively. Do not formulate a policy based on some imagined parental right to notification. Formulate a policy designed to protect the health and safety of students as effectively as possible. We sympathize with Provost Robert Barchi when he says that "I can't imagine you would not tell me if my children's lives were at risk." But there is no inherent reason to grant parents the "right to know" simply because they are concerned. Penn students are adults, entitled to make their own decisions -- and their own mistakes. There is only one reason to notify parents of drug and alcohol violations -- when the student's health and safety is in danger. Penn's policy must work to enshrine that principal, both by protecting against undue notification and by ensuring that parents are notified when they should be. Therefore, we believe that the notification decision should be placed in the hands of a professional counselor -- and that counseling should be mandated only for students who have been hospitalized overnight for drug- or alcohol-related reasons. Parental notification should never follow an arrest or citation for a drug- or alcohol-related offense. In arguing for overnight hospitalization as the trigger for mandatory counseling, we are mindful of two considerations. Setting the bar too low risks discouraging students from seeking needed help -- a health and safety concern that far outweighs any potential benefit. But for students who require overnight hospitalization, concerns about the student's long-term health are more important than the possibility of creating disincentives to seeking treatment -- particularly because students in such serious condition, or their friends, are less likely to consider seeking help as an option and more likely to view it as a necessity, whatever the consequences. We are equally concerned with the process of parental notification, even for students who have endangered themselves. While many parents serve as stabilizing and supportive influences in their children's lives, we cannot ignore the fact that, in many families, the parent-child relationship is a source of instability. For that reason, we strongly support placing the notification decision in the hands of a counselor who can familiarize themselves with the particulars of a student's situation and make a case-by-case determination on the benefits of notification.

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