Drug and Alcohol Policy

Please note that additional resources and information regarding alcohol and substance abuse are available from the Habif Health & Wellness Center.

President Bush’s National Drug Control Strategy, issued in September, 1989, proposed that Congress pass legislation to require schools, colleges and universities to implement and enforce firm drug prevention programs and policies as a condition of eligibility to receive federal financial assistance. On December 12, 1989, President Bush signed the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989, Public Law 101-226.

The law requires that as a condition of receiving federal funds, Washington University in St. Louis must certify that it has adopted and implemented a program to prevent the unlawful possession, use or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees. Accordingly, Washington University has instituted an Alcohol Policy, which became effective on and after October 1, 1990. The law requires:

The annual distribution, in writing, to all students and employees:

  1. Standards of conduct that clearly prohibit, at a minimum, the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees on its property or as part of any of its activities;
  2. A description of applicable legal sanctions under local, state or federal law; a description of health risks associated with the use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol;
  3. A description of available drug or alcohol counseling, treatment or rehabilitation, or re-entry programs;
  4. A clear statement of the disciplinary sanctions the university will impose on students and employees; and
  5. A biennial review by the university of its program to determine its effectiveness, implement needed changes and ensure that disciplinary sanctions are consistently enforced.

In accordance with this mandate, Washington University has developed and regularly reviews a formal Drug and Alcohol Policy, outlining policy, sanctions and resources. The university also has some more specific policies regarding alcohol and drug use, such as those governing Residential Colleges. Other policies governing alcohol use are included in the university’s policies regarding alcohol at undergraduate and graduate school events.


As adults, students are expected to know the applicable laws, and to be responsible for their own behavior. They are expected to obey the laws and all university rules and regulations. At events where alcohol is served, the responsibility for compliance with the alcohol policy lies with the host organization or individuals sponsoring the event. The host organization or the individuals will be held accountable under the University Judicial Code for difficulties arising from noncompliance.


Carding for Washington University identification and legal age must occur at all events. Persons not having identification showing that they are of legal age shall not be served alcoholic beverages. Only one drink may be served at a time. Nonalcoholic beverages must be easily accessible and attractive. Nonsalty foods must be plentiful and available. Alcohol may not be the main focus of the event. Alcohol is NOT to be served to persons who appear to be intoxicated. Any serving of hard alcohol “open” parties or events is prohibited. Everclear or grain alcohol punches are prohibited. Progressive alcohol parties (i.e., room to room, floor to floor, etc.) are prohibited. Open containers or bottles or alcoholic beverages are prohibited on campus, except at registered parties. At least two security persons, one of whom shall monitor compliance with this policy, are to be present at all events at which alcohol is available. The cost of security is to be paid by the sponsoring organization or individual.

For all closed events, an alphabetized, typed guest list must be submitted to the appropriate Student Services Department (Office of Student Activities or Residential Life) at least 24 hours before the event or by 5 p.m. on the Friday before the event. The number of guests invited may not exceed three times the number of members in the sponsoring organization. The names of at least two responsible contact persons who will be in attendance throughout the event are to be specified on the event registration form. Alcohol is not to be mentioned in advertisements, directly or indirectly.


Any suspected violations of this policy will be investigated by a Student Services staff member. Violations will result in disciplinary action being taken against the host organization and/or individuals sponsoring the event. VIOLATORS MAY RECEIVE SANCTIONS UP TO AND INCLUDING SUSPENSION OR EXPULSION FROM THE UNIVERSITY. Students suspected of having problems associated with the abuse of beverage alcohol may be referred to university counseling resources.


At all events where alcohol is served:

  • There may be no charges or admission fees
  • Alcohol service must be in a controlled area (e.g., inside a building, behind a serving table barricade, etc.)
  • Alcohol may not be freely accessible to guests. The sponsoring host or organization must provide individuals to serve beverage alcohol and to check each individual served for identification of legal age.
  • One drink only served at a time.
  • Signs must be prominently posted at the serving areas. Minimum dimensions of signs shall be 24″ high by 30″ long, and must say: “YOU MUST HAVE PROOF OF LEGAL AGE TO BE SERVED.” One sign per serving area.
  • Individuals furnishing proper proof of legal age may have hands stamped by a representative of the host organization to indicate that proper identification has been checked. Ink stamps are required. Markers or pens may not be used.
  • Alcoholic beverages may not be taken from the area of the event.
  • Rules requiring proper presentation of identification apply to both “open” and “closed” events.
  • Security shall check for Washington University identification at the entrance to the event. Representatives of the host organization shall check for proof of legal age at the point of distribution.
  • All BYO beverages at “closed” events must be kept at the controlled point of distribution, and are subject to the above rules.

Alternative Food and Beverages

Washington University policy requires that alternate, nonalcoholic beverages and nonsalty food be ample, attractive and readily available at all events where alcohol is served. Foods should consists of snacks, sandwiches, cleaned and prepared vegetables, breads, etc. Dry cereals, unprepared vegetables and foods not attractively served are not acceptable. Alternative beverages shall consist of fruit juices, nonalcoholic punches, carbonated sodas, etc., and must be served in a clean attractive manner.

Organizations failing to comply with the food and beverage service expectations will be denied permission to serve alcohol at future events. Student groups are directed to consult with the Office of Student Activities or the Office of Residential Life for assistance in planning food and alternative beverage options.

Host Responsibility

Host individuals or organizations are responsible for compliance with this policy. Sober, responsible individuals must be present during the entire event at which alcohol is served. They must be readily available to the Patrol, University Police, or other university representatives.

Clean Up and Maintenance

It is the responsibility of host organizations to clean up any party area or university property within eight hours of the conclusion of the event. Trash must be bagged and in or near appropriate containers. The university reserves the right to assign maintenance personnel to clean an area not properly policed by the host organization and to bill the organization.

Inappropriate Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption in some parts of campus and at some events, regardless of the legal age of the individual, is prohibited. Alcohol at athletic events is prohibited. Alcohol in classrooms, lectures or public events is prohibited. Possession on campus of alcoholic beverages in open containers in a nonparty context is prohibited.


The Judicial Administrator will assist any students by clarifying provisions of this policy. This policy may be modified or amended without prior notice.

Other Limitations

Other restrictions on the possession or serving or alcoholic beverages may exist for certain buildings or events, either on campus or associated with sponsored activities. Please consult with university staff for further information.