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Bulletin Archive

This archived information is dated to the 2009-10 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Controlled Substances and Alcohol


Student conduct is guided by the Fundamental Standard. Implicit in the Standard is the understanding that students are responsible for making their own decisions and accepting the consequences of those decisions.

In order to make informed decisions about alcohol and other drug use, students should educate themselves about the health and safety risks associated with their use, as well as about state and local laws on possessing, serving, and consuming alcohol. It is widely recognized that the misuse and abuse of drugs ("controlled substances")* and the abuse of alcohol are major contributors to serious health problems, as well as to social and civic concerns. Among the health risks associated with the use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol are various deleterious physical and mental consequences including dependency, severe disability, even death. Information concerning the known effects of alcohol and specific drugs is available from the Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention Program at Vaden Student Health Service.

The goal of this University's policy is to reduce the abuse and illegal use of alcohol and other drugs, and the human and material costs associated with it. The University, as an educational institution, approaches student conduct issues from a perspective that places emphasis on individual responsibility and development. Education about and prevention of alcohol and other drug-related problems will continue to be the primary emphasis and goal. However, the University expects students, as individuals and as members of groups, to conduct themselves in accordance with this and all other University policies governing student conduct.

* Controlled substances are those defined in 21 U.S.C. 812; they include, but are not limited to, such substances as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines.


The University's policy on controlled substances and alcohol is published in its complete form in the Administrative Guide as Administrative Guide Memo 23.6, available at, and on the Judicial Affairs Office web site

The following is quoted from the policy:

It is the policy of the University to maintain a drug-free workplace and campus. The unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, and/or use of controlled substances or the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of alcohol is prohibited on the Stanford campus, in the workplace, or as part of any of the University's activities. The workplace and campus are presumed to include all Stanford premises where the activities of the University are conducted. Violation of this policy may result in disciplinary sanctions up to and including termination of employment or expulsion of students. Violations may also be referred to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.

This policy will be reviewed at least biennially.


The following are examples to illustrate the policy:

No University funds or funds collected by the University may be used in a way that violates the alcohol policy. In student residences, house funds (funds collected by the Student Financial Services or other University offices) may not by used to buy alcohol because the majority of undergraduates are under the legal drinking age of 21. The decision to use student-collected funds to buy alcohol should be made lawfully, thoughtfully, fairly, and in a way that respects the views of all students. Students must not be required to contribute to a student-collected fund for the purposes of purchasing alcohol. No alcoholic beverages may be served at all-freshman house events in common area spaces (e.g., lounges, hallways, patios/outdoor areas).

Party planners are responsible for planning and carrying out events in compliance with this policy. At least one house or organization officer must assume responsibility for an event's compliance with the policy, and their names must be made available to Stanford's Department of Public Safety and the University upon request.


Educational and rehabilitative measures will be the preferred response to infractions of the Policy unaccompanied by more egregious misconduct. Penalties are calibrated according to the severity of the violation. Misbehavior associated with drug or alcohol use and abuse may result in one or more of the following University consequences:

Individuals who violate the University Residence Agreement may lose their University student housing privileges and/or be reported to the Judicial Affairs Office.

Individuals who violate the University's terms and conditions for student organization recognition as defined in the Student Organization Handbook may be subject to expulsion from the student organization.

Student groups which violate the Policy may face suspension of social privileges, as well as the loss of University recognition, meeting space, and housing or other related privileges.

Students should understand that inebriation is never an excuse for misconduct, that the careless or willful reduction, through the use of alcohol or other intoxicants, of their own ability to think clearly, exercise good judgment, and respond to rational intervention may invoke more stringent penalties than otherwise might be levied.

Penalties will be imposed according to the facts and circumstances of each case. They can be imposed singly or in combination by the Office of Residential Education/Graduate Residences, the Office of Student Activities, the Dean of Students Office, and the Office of Judicial Affairs.


While the law regarding civil liability is complex, it is important to know that under some circumstances party hosts, sponsors, bartenders, or others might be held legally liable for the consequences of serving alcohol to underage drinkers or to obviously intoxicated persons. Social hosts or party planners could be sued and found personally responsible for damages to the injured party(ies) including:

Specific damages. These are damages which are measurable. For example, when bodily injury results in medical expenses or lost wages.

General damages. These are damages which cannot not be specifically measured in terms of dollar amount. For example, pain and suffering resulting from bodily injury.

Punitive damages. These are damages which are intended to serve as an example to others and to discourage behavior which is deemed highly undesirable to society.


Stanford University is not a sanctuary from the enforcement of state and local laws. Students and others on campus who violate the law may be and have been arrested and prosecuted. Primary responsibility for law enforcement, including that related to alcohol, rests with law enforcement agencies, primarily the Stanford University Department of Public Safety. Uniformed officers who patrol the campus and respond to calls are deputized by the Sheriff of Santa Clara County and are fully empowered and authorized to stop vehicles, make arrests, and enforce all laws. Laws are subject to change; consequently, the following information is illustrative but must not be relied on as a complete and current citing of relevant laws. More information is available at the Stanford Department of Public Safety, 711 Serra Street.

Generally, it is a criminal offense:

  1. To provide any alcoholic beverage to a person under 21.
  2. To provide any alcoholic beverage to an obviously intoxicated person.
  3. For any person under age 21 to purchase alcohol.
  4. To be under the influence of alcohol or another drug in a public place and unable to exercise care for one's own safety or that of others.
  5. For persons under 21 to possess alcohol in any public place or any place open to the public (for example, public places in student residences).
  6. To operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or any other drug. Presumed to be driving under the influence (DUI) with a blood alcohol level (BAL) of 0.08% or higher.
  7. To ride a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both.
  8. To have an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle; and, for persons under 21 to drive a vehicle carrying alcohol or to possess alcohol while in a motor vehicle.
  9. To have in one's possession, or to use, false evidence of age and identity to purchase alcohol.
  10. To possess an open container of alcohol in a public place or any place open to the public. Applies in Palo Alto jurisdiction.
  11. To be in possession of an unregistered keg. All kegs sold must be registered at the time of purchase. Identification tags must be placed on all kegs in order to allow kegs to be traced if the contents are used in violation of the law.


In the event of life threatening emergencies call 9-911 from on-campus and 911 from off-campus.

Campus Resources—(Area Code 650) Counseling and Psychological Services, 24 hours (723-3785); The Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention Program (723-3429); Stanford Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center (723-6682); Vaden Health Service's Medical Advice Line, 24 hours (723-4841); The Bridge, 24-hour Peer Counseling (723-3392).

The Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention Program at Vaden Health Service: provides information and referral, educational training and workshops, and non-clinical consultations for groups and individuals. The program utilizes a harm reduction approach to prevent problems associated with the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (723-3429).

The Office of Student Activities at Tresidder Memorial Union: provides workshops and training, publications, and party planning consultations. Web site: (723-2733).

Community Resources—Alcoholics Anonymous (650) 592-2364, Alanon (650) 873-2356 or (408) 379-1051.

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